Monday, December 2, 2013

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield roars back in 31-21 victory over Hampden-Sydney

#5 Dom Forrest and the Linfield defense were all smiles in the 4th quarter.
(Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's 2013 Linfield Football photos here. )

Hampden-Sydney head football coach Marty Favret said his Tigers were going to come out to Maxwell Field to punch Linfield in the mouth.  He wasn’t wrong as H-SC stormed the ‘Catdome and dominated Linfield for the first 20 minutes of the game.  The Tigers did slug Linfield right in the mouth but H-SC didn’t know that this Linfield team has an iron jaw.  Down 21-3 at the 9:43 mark of the 2nd quarter, Linfield slowly took control of the game back from H-SC as the ‘Cats would score the next 28 points of the game to claim the 31-21 victory and advance to a regional finals for the 3rd time in the past 5 seasons.  There were a lot of tense moments during the game as H-SC was ready and threw everything at Linfield they could and came close to what looked like they could possibly score a mammoth upset in this year’s playoff.  But what can you say about Linfield?   For the majority of the season Linfield lit up the opposition but when push came to shove, this Wildcat team shoved back in a major way.

The game started to shift when Linfield’s defense was finally able to solve the Tiger’s offense.  In H-SC’s first five possessions the Tigers posted up 3 long touchdowns and 322 yards of offense (64.4 yards per possession).  After the ‘Cats gave up that 3rd and final score early in the 2nd quarter, Linfield put it together defensively in only allowing 120 yards of offense on H-SC’s next 10 offensive possessions (12 yards per possession).  The Linfield defense shutting down H-SC for the remainder of the game was key as it allowed a Linfield offense that had their issues converting drives for scores regain the lead to help secure the win. 

With the win, Linfield is able to advance to the regional final where the ‘Cats will be traveling out to the region's top seed UW-Whitwater.  We’ll talk more about UWW as the week moves along but what can you say about the Warhawks?  They’re a freaking great football program and Linfield is going to have to bring their “A” game this week in order to advance.  The Warhawk’s are led by an incredible defense that’s only yielding 7.5 points per game (71.1 yards rushing, 152.8 passing, 223.8 total per game) and an offense that’s putting up close to 40 points per game.  Linfield and UWW have history as the ‘Cats and Warhawks have squared off twice in the recent years with UWW getting both wins (2005 & ’09) and have the full respect from the Linfield faithful.  It’s a big week and a bigger game but this is why our guys come to Linfield, to get the opportunity to play the best of the best.  I’m excited to see how our ‘Cats respond.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Resolve:  No doubt about it the ‘Cats were rocked but to see this team come together and figure out what needed to be fixed and put it into action was a thing of beauty.  The coaching staff was calm and cool at half and so where the players.  That belief and confidence trickled down throughout the roster and you could see as Linfield ripped the game away from H-SC.

3rd/4th down defense:  4 of 14 on 3rd down and 0 of 3 on 4th down.  Tremendous and those stops were huge.  The ‘Cats started to dial up the pressure as we moved into the 2nd quarter and that was a key element into getting those stops.

Special Teams:  What can you say. Huge. Huge. Huge.  Special teams had a great day for Linfield in coverage, kicking, the call to sniff out that fake punt was giant, and we all know the spark our returns teams added on Saturday.  People often overlook good special teams but you saw on Saturday in how big of an impact these groups can have.


Offense Reaching Deep:  It wasn’t the offenses best day in the office.  They’ll admit that to you but this group dug deep to take some of the pressure off the defense in the 2nd quarter in getting the score to 21-10 and came up huge in the 3rd in getting the go-ahead scores. 

The Bad

Bad Start/Giving up big plays:  I already mentioned some of the stats but Linfield got off to a horrendous start.  Credit H-SC for having a great early game plan in attacking Linfield and slowing down the ‘Cats offense but a lot of that was on the ‘Cats.   Obviously, Linfield can’t have that this upcoming week vs UWW.

Turnovers:  Josh Yoder has taken such great care of the football this year but Saturday wasn’t his day.  I don’t need to harp on it but the three picks either near or in the end zone hurt.  Yoder is a great player and competitor and I’m not worried about him moving forward.  The guy is a warrior and will be ready to go on Saturday.

Penalties:  8 penalties for 56 yards. 

The Ugly

Nothing ugly about winning a playoff game.  There are no style points in getting to advance in the playoffs.  Yeah, the ‘Cats took a few more injuries to spots that are already deeply depleted but this group of ‘Cats keep finding a way to step in and step up.  On to Wisconsin!


Chris said...

What a game. Well Done Cats! Not to get ahead, but we are finally the underdogs! Relish that role. we saw how it fired up HSU. If we go into Wisconsin with that type of fire, our D won't let them back into the game. GO CATS!

Chris said...

What a game. Well Done Cats! Not to get ahead, but we are finally the underdogs! Relish that role. we saw how it fired up HSU. If we go into Wisconsin with that type of fire, our D won't let them back into the game. GO CATS!

kurtbradwill said...

One thing I will say about the INTs is that yes, they're never pretty but they ended up not hurting. The first and third picks ended up downed on the 1 yard line, acting really as a punt but it does hurt you cant get the points you want. It did seem like those balls were a bit forced but give credit to their DBs, they were on top of the receivers.