Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Linfield’s leading receiver, Zach Kuzens, turns sharply after making a catch to try and gain a few more yards.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield’s leading receiver, Zach Kuzens, turns sharply after making a catch to try and gain a few more yards.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Linfield’s Jake Reimer puts a stop tot he run as he tries to wrap up the Chapman ball carrier.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield’s Jake Reimer puts a stop tot he run as he tries to wrap up the Chapman ball carrier.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Linfield cornerback cornerback Kennedy Johnson reaches up to complete the interception.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield cornerback cornerback Kennedy Johnson reaches up to complete the interception.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Linfield s Johnny Carroll makes a backwards flying catch for a touchdown in the back of the endzone.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield's Johnny Carroll makes a backwards flying catch for a touchdown in the back of the endzone.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield senior All-NWC QB Sam Riddle gets off one of 38 passes he threw in the Wildcats  victory over Chapman.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield senior All-NWC QB Sam Riddle gets off one of 38 passes he threw in the Wildcats' victory over Chapman.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Linfield head coach Joseph Smith addresses his team after the 48-14 victory over Chapman University.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Linfield head coach Joseph Smith addresses his team after the 48-14 victory over Chapman University.
By Rusty Rae • Sport Editor • 

'Cats skin Panthers, 48-14

Linfield football fans got a peek into exactly how good the 2016 version of the No. 3 (D3Football.com)Wildcats might be. It happened during the 20-plus minute stretch of the game Saturday, when the ‘Cats totally dominated Chapman University, and won going away, 48-14, on a warm afternoon at Maxwell Field.
Linfield head coach Joseph Smith said, “I thought our guys played really well in the second quarter.  First quarter, obviously, we scuffled a little bit, in terms of leaving drives unfinished. Our defense was fine – tackling can always be a little better – but the defense was steady,” he said.
In the scuffle department, Linfield was out of sorts for most of the first quarter. The ‘Cats drove to the Chapman nine yard line but missed a field goal. Chapman ran four plays and punted, and Linfield started its second drive at its 43-yard line. This drive stalled in part due to offensive holding. Four plays later, Kevin McClean punted.
Jacob Isabel fielded the punt on the Chapman three yard line. That is when both bad and good happened for the ‘Cats.
Bad, as in blown punt coverage that resulted in a 97 yard punt return for Chapman and a 7-0 lead with 3:49 left in the first quarter. Good as in the return might have been the spark igniting the Wildcat offense.
On the ensuing kick-off, Linfield took the ball and covered 68 yards in eight plays on a nice mix of run and pass. The last three yards were covered by a pass from QB Sam Riddle to Johnny Carroll to tie the score.
After a defensive stop, Linfield opened the second quarter with a five play drive, as Riddle hit Erick Douglas in the end zone for 32 yards and a 13-7 lead. The ‘Cats were not done as Kennedy Johnson intercepted a Ricky Batista Chapman pass at the Panthers’ 43. The ‘Cats again used a balanced attack to score at 10:57 of the second quarter and lead 20-7.
Chapman scored at the 7:42 mark of the second quarter on a six play drive, with the majority of the yards coming on one play, a 43-yard pass to Isabel. Chapman scored two plays later which is when the Linfield defense essentially said “enough is enough”. 
From this point, Chapman never scored again. Even the second and third team defensive unitblunted a Chapman scoring attempt with 47 seconds left in the game. The offense took over on downs at the four-yard line and running out the clock.
Offensively, Linfield stepped on the gas, with Riddle as triggerman for the high powered attack. The ‘Cats started on the Linfeld 32, after Chapman’s second score and Riddle hooked up with Zach Kuzens for 53 yards. Eli Fults ran the ball in from the one yard line. Suddenly it was 27-14.
Linfield was not finished in the first half. They took possession on the Chapman 42 after a Panther punt. With 2:01 left in the second quarter, Riddle and the offense went to work. Mixing the run and the pass, Linfield marched to another score, as Riddle hit Carroll from one yard out for a 34-14 lead at halftime.
The third quarter featured more of the same. Riddle led the team on two more scoring drivesof 75 yards each and the 48-14 final score.
Smith said of the last two drives how he basically “gave” the offense to Riddle allowing him to call the game. “It was a little bit of old school – but Sam is a senior QB and the game has really slowed down for him. He sees things on the field and makes the adjustments on the fly and the proof is in two scores.”
Chapman continued to battle, but they were unable to match the intensity of the Linfield defense, and did not score in the final two stanzas.
“It was nice to see the second and third team guys on our defense rise up and hold Chapman out of the end zone. I think that shows great pride and resolve by those young guys,” Smith said.
He also pointed to the skill of Riddle on offense, adding he was one reasons that it rolled. Indeed, Riddle was 30-38 with one pick for 391 yards and five TDs. Between Riddle and his back-up, Troy Fowler, the twosome spread the ball between nine different receivers. Top receiver for the day was Kuzens with four catches for 94 yards.
Linfield piled up 406 total yards of offense with 165 on the ground. Spencer Payne led the Linfield running attack with 48 net yards on 11 carries for a 4.4 average. He did not play in the second half but Smith said, “ He’s fine – but he has a couple of dings, so we rested him.”
In his stead, Linfield used a number of backs, including Sutter Choisser looking strong with 44 yards on seven carries.
The ‘Cat coaching staff also had the opportunity in the second half to watch a number of players new to the team, including the back-up QB, Fowler, a sophomore from Medford, and freshman Tyler Torgerson of Puyallup, Washington, who had a punt return for a TD called back on a block-in-the-back penalty.
Linfield will meet University of Mary-Hardin Baylor next weekend in Belton, Texas, in a match-up of nationally rated teams.

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