Friday, September 14, 2007

WOU tops Linfield 32-20 in front of 3,800 at McArthur Field

MONMOUTH, Ore.—Western Oregon controlled the football and thus the game during a 32-20 win over Linfield in front of an overflow crowd of 3,800 fans at McArthur Field on Saturday night.

The Wolves had the ball for over 38 minutes in the ball game, compared to 21+ for the visiting Wildcats as WOU moved to 2-0 on the season. The game was the season opener for Linfield.

Western Oregon had nearly 400 yards in total offense and held Linfield to just six yards rushing, but Wolf fans still had to hold their collective breath late in the contest as the Wildcats moved inside the five-yard line with less than five minutes to play, down just 12 points (32-20).

But a rare mistake by Wildcat quarterback Trevor Scharer resulted in a Zach Christopherson interception at the goal line to kill the drive.

Scharer was 24-for-36 for 274 yards on a night where the Wildcat running game was negligent but the passing game was not. His WOU counterpart Mark Thorson was very effective as well, hitting 24 of 34 attempts for 280 yards and three scores.

Twice in the first half, Thorson found tight end Cory Dickson for touchdown passes. In what was a crazy first 30 minutes of play, the Wolves jumped out to a quick 16-0 lead on one of those Thorson to Dickson connections, a 30-yard fumble recovery and run by linebacker Gavin Romanick for a score and a 41-yard field goal by Bruce Voges that came after a Wildcat fumble on the kick-off.

But the Wildcats came right back with a TD run by Drew Ragan and a 10-yard connection from Scharer to Tyler Kaluza to make it 16-13. The first half also included a Wolves safety (Victor Felipe and JT Gilmore on the tackle) and a 74-yard fumble recovery and run by Linfield’s Jaymin Jackson for a score. That came as the Wolves were driving for a potential score to go into the locker room up by 19 points, but instead had to settle for a 25-20 lead.

While the first half featured lots of everything, the second half turned into more of a chess match, with the Wolves controlling the pieces. WOU had the ball 19 of the 30-second half minutes, and produced the only score after intermission on a 19-yard pass from Thorson to Shaun Kauleinamoku. WOU advanced into Linfield territory twice, including a drive that advanced to the 12-yard line before tailback Ben Kuenzi’s pass was intercepted.

That was a rare miscue for Kuenzi, who had a hard-earned 89 yards on 26 carries. Tyler Wilson added 40 yards on 12 carries, while Kauleinamoku was Thorson’s top receiver with eight catches for 86 yards. Isaiah Smith had six grabs for 75 yards.

Andrew Bean and Keone Tawata were busy on defense for Linfield, each recording 17 tackles on the night. Casey O’Donnell had two tackles for loss for the Wolves defense, leading seven different players who had tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Western Oregon will hit the road next week, traveling to Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday. Start time is 7 pm Central Daylight Time.


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