Monday, October 26, 2009
'Cats Win! Linfield takes control of NWC race with 30-27 victory over Willamette
After last year's drubbing at the hands of Willamette, Wildcat11 was in the Keck parking lot with some of the other Linfield faithful licking our wounds and a Willamette student who was celebrating his team's victory proclaimed to us that "Linfield is living in the past" and that it's a new era in the Northwest Conference. Obviously, the enthusiastic young Bearcat isn't a history major at WU or he would know that history has a way of repeating itself, as it did yesterday, with Linfield's hard fought 30-27 victory.
The win was Linfield's 4th in 5 games this past decade at the "Catdome Capital" and ran their total record to 8-2 overall this past decade against their Salem rivals. More importantly, the win moved Linfield to 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in Northwest Conference play. Linfield just has to win 1 of the next 2 to clinch a share of the NWC title and lock up the NWC autobid to the NCAA's. Of course, it would be much better to just win out and stand alone as conference champions for the 33rd time.
As for the game itself, it was a perfect day in the mid-valley and just a great example of what a great small college football should look like with a great crowd, great weather, and two fine teams slugging it out. It was a great day to be a Wildcat and we should all be proud of the young men on this team. They are a close group of players and it's satisfying to see their hard work paying off this season.
Offensive Line pass pro: We talked about how Willamette came into the game easily leading the conference in total sacks (avg about 4 a game) but the big fellas up front gave up zero on the day and Boehme never really felt any heat back in the pocket through out the day. It was the biggest test of the year for this offensive line group and they passed with flying colors.
1st Half Defense: Outstanding defense by the 'Cats in the 1st half in giving up two field goals and really setting the tone for the 'Cats at the beginning of the contest. Great bend but don't break at the end of the 1st half where Willmette had a golden chance to punch in a touchdown but the 'Cats defense was able to hold and force the field goal.
Running game: The offensive line and wide receivers were great in setting up Aaron Williams and Aaron Boehme in the 'Cats running attack. (You have to mention the job the wide receivers do in the run game this year...excellent work by Coach Yen's crew). Williams was a tough as nails in finishing run after run while taking care of the rock and Boehme did a great job with his decision making in terms of pull down the ball and taking off in what seemed was 1st down after 1st down in that 4th quarter.
Special Teams: Awesome, awesome job. Special Teams really hurt Linfield in 07 and 08 vs Willamette but the special teams unit continued to show improvement and did a great job all game long. A lot of hard work by that group and they deserve "5 alrights".
Catdome Fans: It was really the "Catdome Capital" on Saturday as the Linfield faithful swarmed McCulloch Stadium and outnumbered the home crowd. It was a great showing as the 'Cat fans really brought great energy all game long.
1st half 4th down misses: The 'Cats really missed a golden opportunity to put some big distances between them and Willamette but Linfield was unable to convert two 4th and short opportunities deep in Willamette territory that might have resulted in additional scoring opportunites.
Schoettgen Got Loose: The Willamette Wide Receiver finished the day with 8 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. A few times Schoettgen just made some plays that few, if anybody, in Division III would have been able to defend but that was one area of the game that I'm sure the defensive staff would have loved to have another shot at.
A perfect fall Saturday in the Willamette valley, a huge and vocal crowd, and a Linfield victory over Willamette to push the 'Cats to 7-0 and all that much closer to a NWC crown....there was nothing ugly about Saturday.
Brad Thompson's 2009 Linfield Photos: View Here