/seasons/2018/contrib/20181103ns56ym

Miracle finish lifts Linfield to wild 47-41 win on the road

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TACOMA, Wash. – Wyatt Smith's 59-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Lasswell with 35 seconds to play lifted Linfield to a wild 47-41 Northwest Conference victory over upset-minded Puget Sound Saturday afternoon at Baker Stadium.
 
The 23rd-ranked Wildcats (6-2, 5-1 NWC) seemingly had the game well in hand, leading by four scores, 37-13, with 10½ minutes to play. But Puget Sound (5-4, 3-3 NWC), behind the madcap playmaking of quarterback Murdock Rutledge, came roaring back with 22 unanswered points in a six-minute span, eventually taking a 41-40 lead with less than a minute to play.
 
Linfield needed a miracle to pull the game out and got one. After UPS had covered 75 yards in 49 seconds to take its only lead on Jewell Day's 28-yard touchdown catch from Rutledge with 51 seconds left, the Wildcats answered with Smith's bomb down the middle to a wide-open Lasswell on the next offensive play.
 
The game featured 1,130 yards of offense, including 614 by Linfield. The Loggers picked up 432 of their 516 total yards after intermission. The two quarterbacks combined for 845 yards passing. Smith threw for a career-high 449 yards and four touchdowns. Rutledge completed 25 of 53 passes for 396 yards and four scores but he was intercepted three times and was sacked five times.
 
Wildcats tailback Chidubem Nnoli ran for a game- and career-high 163 yards and scored two touchdowns. It was the junior from Beaverton's fifth consecutive game of at least 100 yards rushing.
 
Nnoli scored Linfield's first touchdown on a 46-yard run with the game less than three minutes old. It remained a 7-0 affair until early in the second quarter when Rutledge connected with Alvin Johnson for an 8-yard TD.
 
The Wildcats answered right away with Keegan Weiss pulling in a 24-yard TD pass from Smith with 11:42 left in the second quarter. The extra point was no good and Linfield nursed a 13-7 lead.
 
Converting a sack and two Puget Sound miscues into points, Linfield scored twice in the final minute of the half to take command. First, Willy Warne capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal. The Loggers were forced to punt after Travis Swanson sacked Rutledge for an eight-yard loss on third down.
 
Punting from his own end zone, Alex Everett's muffed attempt traveled just 16 yards to the UPS 26-yard line. Smith then drove the Wildcats to the end zone in two plays, the last one a 14-yard toss to Lasswell in the corner of the end zone. The drive was aided by a pass interference call against the Loggers.
 
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. When Smith hooked up with Keaton Wood for an 86-yard scoring pass with 10:36 left to put Linfield in front 37-13, it appeared the Wildcats would win the game handily.
 
Rutledge and the Loggers had other ideas. The junior QB ran 5 yards for a score with just under nine minutes, then found Jewell Day for a 40-yard TD two minutes later. The next time the Loggers touched the ball, they marched 95 yards to the end zone as Rutledge connected with Colin Heimbach for a 64-yard score. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Puget Sound was within two points, 37-35, with 3:40 to play.

Linfield marched to the UPS 18-yard line but a penalty on a fourth-down play backed the 'Cats up to the 23. On fourth-and-8, the Wildcats settled for Willy Warne's 40-yard field goal, allowing the Loggers one last offensive possession trailing by five.

Rutledge completed three passes to Jewell Day, including a 28-yard scoring play that gave the hosts a momentary 41-40 lead.
 
After Smith's game-saving pass with 35 seconds to play, the Loggers advanced as far as midfield, but Day was tackled by Tony Kraus tackled for an 11-yard loss as time expired.
 
Lasswell ended the day with six catches for a season-high 135 yards and two TDs. Weiss totaled four catches for 82 yards and Max Novak had four receptions for 80 yards. Smith completed 20 of 30 pass attempts without an interception.
 
Day totaled nine catches for 154 yards and two scores. Heimnbach caught five balls for 143 yards.
 
Defensively, Tyler Bergeron led the way for Linfield with nine tackles. Patrick Pipitone came away with six tackles, including two for loss. Bergeron, Pipitone and Marquis Perrillait all came away with interceptions. Perrilliat was credited with five pass breakups and as a team, Linfield totaled 14 breakups.
 
'Cat Scratch
Saturday's attendance was 1,285. . . it was Linfield's 29th straight victory over Puget Sound. . . the 3½-hour contest was marred by a slew of penalties as Linfield was flagged 16 times and Puget Sound was penalized 11 times. . . Linfield's 10.2 average yards per play set a new single-game team record, surpassing the standing record of 10.0 set in 2015 against Pacific.
 
Next
Linfield returns home to play Pacific Saturday in the annual Pacific Office Automation Hall of Fame game. Kickoff at Maxwell Field is set for 1 p.m.

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