McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Taking on the fifth-ranked team in NCAA Division III, the Puget Sound Loggers weren't intimidated as they used a record-setting performance from freshman Ross Zuhl (Issaquah, Wash.) to put a scare in the Linfield Wildcats before falling 54-36 in a Northwest Conference football game on Saturday afternoon at Maxwell Field in McMinnville, Ore.
The Loggers (0-7, 0-4 NWC) took the early lead when they drove down 63 yards down the field on the opening possession before starting quarterback Spencer Crace (Wilsonville, Ore.) scampered in from four years out and the PAT by Peter Topolski (University Place, Wash./Covenant) was good for a 7-0 lead. The Wildcats answered back on their next possession, using a one yard run by Aaron Boehme and a PAT by Maika Kunioka to even the score at 7-7.
Linfield then took the lead with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter when Boehme connected with Trevor Patterson on a 37-yards touchdown pass that gave Linfield the 14-7 lead following the PAT. The Loggers tied it up with 9:49 to go in the second quarter as Crace found senior Chad Koenig (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) for a one yard pass that capped a 36 yard drive.
The Wildcats retook the lead just four plays later as Boehme snuck in from a yard out to give Linfield a 21-14 advantage. The Loggers again tied it up with 6:25 left to go in the half as Casey Larson (Coupeville, Wash.) caught a pass from Crace and took it in from 36 yards out for the score. Boehme and Patterson met up again with 4:26 left in the half to give Linfield a 28-21 lead but a 28-yard field goal attempt by Topolski was good as the Loggers trailed by just four points, 28-24, heading into halftime.
The Wildcats got the first points of the second half with 10:25 left to play in the third quarter as Gunnar Cederberg collected a pass from Boehme and took it in 21 yards to cap an eight-play, 63-yard drive that gave the 'Cats a 35-24 lead. The Loggers again pulled close with 6:33 left in the third as Zuhl caught a 25-yard pass from Crace but the PAT was no good as the Loggers pulled back within five points, 35-30.
Linfield again expanded their lead in the closing minutes of the third quarter as Boehme collected his fourth passing touchdown of the afternoon on a 14 yard pass to Patterson to give Linfield a 41-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter of play, Zuhl collected his second touchdown of the day on his 16th reception, going 22 yards but the PAT failed as the Loggers stayed five points back, 41-36. The Wildcats closed out the contest with two more scores but not before the Loggers gave them a little scare as Linfield collected the 54-36 victory.
Crace finished the afternoon with 328 yards passing and four touchdowns on 35 of 44 pass attempts. His favorite target was Zuhl, who caught 18 passes for 185 yards to set a new school record for pass receptions in a game, passing the 15 that Darrell Stewart caught last year against Lewis & Clark. The Logger offense, who was playing without the services of injured quarterback Kavin Williams (Ocean Shores, Wash./North Beach), collected 377 yards of total offense on the day, with just 49 coming on the ground. Defensively, the Loggers were led by eight tackles each from safeties Cory Dunn (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) and Damarkus Milner (Tacoma, Wash./Lincoln).
Linfield was led by 409 yards in the air from Boehme, who threw five touchdowns on 26 of 35 attempts with one interception and one sack. Boehme also rushed for three touchdowns on the day as he had his hand in on every touchdown that Linfield scored. Paul Partlow led the 'Cats defensively, collecting 13 tackles on the day.
The Loggers return to Peyton Field at Baker Stadium one more time this season as they play host to Willamette next Saturday. Kickoff with the Bearcats is set for 1:00 p.m in Tacoma, Wash.