No. 3 Linfield blanks Lewis & Clark for 23rd straight NWC win

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Tailback John Shaffer rushed for three scores and three quarterbacks tossed touchdown passes for No. 3 Linfield, which thumped Lewis & Clark 63-0 Saturday at Griswold Stadium.

The lopsided win, coupled with Northwest Conference co-leader Willamette's loss to Pacific Lutheran, enabled the Wildcats to assume sole possession of first place in the conference standings. Three-time defending champion Linfield extended its conference win streak to 23 straight games while ringing up the most one-sided game in a series that dates to 1901.

Lewis & Clark (4-3, 1-3 NWC) spun its wheels offensively for much of the game, generating just 207 yards, including 42 rushing. Wildcats defensive back Hoku Kama totaled a team-high seven tackles, tackle Marq Randall had six stops, including a sack, and end Brynnan Hyland brought constant pressure, racking up a pair of sacks among his five total tackles.

Rolling up 534 yards with just 69 plays, the Wildcats scored seemingly at will, the only blemishes coming by way of three lost fumbles.

Freshman reserve Tavon Willis rushed for a game-high 59 yards while Shaffer finished with 38 yards on eight carries. Linfield quarterbacks completed 24-of-37 passes and three touchdowns without an interception. Starter Mickey Inns passed for 265 yards in two quarters of action. His backup, Josh Yoder, went 4-for-5 for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Mosterback Kyle Wright opened the scoring with a 75-yard punt return up the right sideline at the 9-minute mark of the first quarter. Shaffer then reeled off three rushing touchdowns in an 11-minute span, scoring from 14, 3 and 8 yards out.

The Wildcats made it 35-0 on a 3-yard TD catch by Charlie Poppen from Inns with 7:11 to go in the second quarter. The short pass play was set up by a 30-yard interception by Colin Forman that spotted the ball at the L&C 3-yard line.

Linfield pushed the game out of reach on the final drive of the first half. Inns marched the Wildcats 52 yards to the Pioneers' 27 before launching a Hail Mary to Lucas Jepson for the sixth touchdown of the half as time expired.

The 'Cats outgained the Pioneers 319-59 in the first two quarters. L&C star quarterback Keith Welch was ineffective, completing just 4 of 16 throws for 50 yards.

After liberally inserting substitutes to begin the second half, Linfield continued its scoring spree, reaching the end zone in each of its first three drives.

Yoder rushed for a 4-yard score, then threw 15 yards to Evan Peterson for another, pushing the Linfield advantage to 56-0. Mikkel Smythe provided the final points, scoring on an 8-yard run with 1:25 left in the quarter.

Charlie Poppen led Linfield receivers with five catches for 41 yards. Lucas Jepson, David Sigler and Deidre Wiersma each caught three balls for the Wildcats, who completed 65 percent of their passes on the afternoon.

'CAT SCRATCH: Linfield's 63-point margin of victory eclipsed the record 55-point spreads of 1999 and 2007. . . Linfield leads the all-time series 58-17-1 including 34 straight victories over Lewis & Clark. . . Saturday's estimated attendance was 2,000. . . Lewis & Clark held the ball for 40 of the game's 60 minutes yet came away scoreless. . . the Pioneers netted minus-7 yards rushing in the opening two quarters. . . L&C was forced to punt eight times in the first half while Linfield attempted just one punt. . . the Wildcats were penalized 12 times for 106 yards. . . Wright's 75-yard punt return stands as the third-longest in program history. . . assistant coach Brandon Hazenberg holds the school record with a 92-yard return in 2004.

NEXT: The Wildcats head back to Maxwell Field for a showdown with NWC co-leader Willamette in a game that will go a long ways toward determining the 2012 conference champion. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.

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