Oct. 25, 2009

Courtesy of Linfield Athletics

SALEM, Ore. - Quarterback Aaron Boehme (Jr., Stanwood, Wash.) passed for two touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards and another score to lead sixth-ranked Linfield past Northwest Conference archrival Willamette 30-27 Saturday afternoon at McCulloch Stadium.

The unbeaten Wildcats (6-0, 3-0 NWC) held off a furious Bearcats rally in the fourth quarter to win the key showdown of nationally ranked teams. Willamette (6-1, 3-0 NWC), ranked 17th in the most recent d3football.com poll, saw its six-game winning streak snapped.

Boehme threw for 195 yards, completing 17 of 31 attempts. But it was his 78 yards rushing in the second half that broke Willamette's back.

Linfield led by 10 in the fourth quarter after Aaron Williams (Soph., Aptos, Calif.) banged across the goal line from five yards out. Willamette needed just 37 seconds to answer when Jamiere Abney reeled off two long runs, including a 18-yard scamper to bring the Bearcats to within three points.

Boehme and the Wildcats went on a clock-chewing 11-play, 73-yard drive, culminating with Boehme passing seven yards to tight end Chris Saunders (Soph., San Francisco, Calif.).

The Bearcats kept the heat on, covering 69 yards to paydirt with Scott Schoettgen's 1-yard TD catch from Kevin Ramey. After Rowan's extra point, Willamette was again within three points with 21 seconds left on the clock.

The onside kick attempt bounced high and out of bounds, clinching the game in Linfield's favor.

Williams rushed for a game-high 125 yards on 32 carries. Abney, playing in place of injured WU star Deon Horne, netted 90 yards on 10 rushes.

Schoettgen finished with eight catches for 122 yards and two TDs, one each from rotating Bearcats quarterbacks Ramay and starter Brian Widing.

Good fortune dropped in the Wildcats' hands on the opening drive of the game. A long pass by Boehme found its way into the hands of Chris Slezak (Sr., Salem, Ore.) after ricocheting off WU cornerback Jeff Kahler at the Bearcats 25-yard line. Slezak raced untouched into the end zone to complete the 50-yard scoring play. The extra point attempt by Maika Kunioka (Fr., Mililani, Hawaii) was wide left and the Wildcats led 6-0 with less than two minutes gone.

Boehme made it 13-0 with 16 seconds left in the first quarter, sprinting around right end on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1.

Willamette answered with a six-play scoring drive, capped by Mitchell Rowan's 28-yard field goal two minutes into the second quarter. Rowan later cut the deficit to seven, adding a 22-yard field goal

Linfield kept the ball on the ground for much of the first quarter as Williams gained 59 yards in the quarter on 14 carries.

Final statistics were nearly even, with Linfield edging Willamette 422-411 in total yards. The Wildcats were penalized six times for 60 yards.

Slezak and Buddy Saxon (Soph., Grants Pass, Ore.) each caught four passes for the Wildcats.

Wildcats safety Kole Krieger (Soph., Sherwood, Ore.) record a team-high 10 tackles. Nate Dixon (Soph., Kapolei, Hawaii) snagged a first-half interception while Bryce Comfort (Jr., Tacoma, Wash.) recovered a Bearcats fumble in third quarter to snuff another drive.