/seasons/2019/contrib/20191109of392i

Linfield tops Whitworth in OT, clinches NWC title and NCAA berth

More news about: Linfield

SPOKANE, Wash. – Colton Smith pulled in a 2-yard pass from older brother Wyatt Smith in overtime, vaulting the Linfield Wildcats to an emotional 38-31 victory over the Whitworth Pirates Saturday afternoon at the Whitworth Pine Bowl.
 
The Wildcats (7-1, 6-0 NWC) overcame 24 unanswered points by the defending NWC champion Pirates, clinching the program's 10th NWC title in 11 years. Linfield scored the game's final 17 points. The victory also assured Linfield of a berth in the upcoming NCAA Division III playoffs, which begin Nov. 23 at a site to be announced Nov. 17 by the NCAA.
 
Linfield quarterback Wyatt Smith passed for five touchdowns and a season-high 421 yards, leading the 23rd-ranked Wildcats to their sixth-straight victory.
 
Whitworth (5-3, 4-2 NWC) lost on its home field for the first time in three seasons, snapping a 12-game home winning streak
 
Linfield outgained Whitworth in total yards, 517-407, running a total of 97 plays from scrimmage, three shy of the Linfield single-record.
 
The Wildcats opened the scoring with a touchdown on the game's first drive. Wyatt Smith passed 12 yards to Colton Smith just two minutes into the contest. The Pirates answered with Leif Ericksen's 10-yard touchdown pass to Jerusalem To'oto'o with 7:55 left in the first quarter.
 
Linfield moved back in front five minutes later as Smith connected with Keegan Weiss fir a 40-yard scoring pass. The 'Cats went in front by two scores after Artie Johnson pulled in an 11-yard TD pass from Smith.
 
Whitworth scored twice to close the half, the first coming on a 46-yard pass play from Taylor Kolste to Nick McGill with less than a minute left in the first quarter. McGill's trick pass to Taylor Hall tied the game at 21 with 4:24 left. The ball was deflected in the end zone by Isaiah Cole before settling into the hands of Hall.
 
The Pirates got the ball back to start the second half and promptly took their first lead of the game on a 41-yard field goal by Noah Alejado. Whitworth then opened a 31-21 advantage midway through the third quarter as Bryce Hornbeck picked off a Smith pass and returned the ball 35 yards for a touchdown.  
 
Trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, the Wildcats scored twice in a four-minute span to tie the game. Andrew Starkel booted a 22-yard field goal at the 13:31 mark to trim the margin to seven, and Johnson scored the equalizer on a 10-yard shovel pass from Smith with 9:07 left to play.
 
Linfield got the ball first in the overtime and the Wildcats took the upper hand on their 12th play of the drive. The Pirates advanced just five yards in four plays in overtime, with Ericksen passing incomplete on the final two plays.
 
Johnson rushed for 97 yards on 22 carries and caught 11 passes for 56 yards and two scores. Colton Smith, who made his first career start, caught 11 passes for 75 yards and two TDs.
 
Wyatt Smith passed 60 times – second-most in Linfield history – and completed 41. He was intercepted three times by the Whitworth defense, twice by Hornbeck.
 
Keyell Davis led Linfield's defensive charge, recording nine tackles. Tyler Sitton, Tyler Good and Dustin Ramsayer-Burdett were each credited with six tackles.
 
NEXT
Linfield returns home to play George Fox in the regular-season finale on Saturday in the annual Pacific Office Automation Hall of Fame game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. with Senior Day introductions taking place at 12:45.
 

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