Menlo's bid to break their all-time winless streak to Linfield went by the books on Saturday, as the Oaks were downed 30-9 to the fifth ranked, NCAA DIII Wildcats at Maxwell Field in McMinnville, OR. The loss makes it 14 straight against Linfield as Menlo pulls their 2012 record to an even 1-1.
Turnovers were a big difference maker in the heated affair, with the Oaks surrendering the football on four separate occasions (3 fumbles, 1 interception). Credit the Wildcats who capitalized on the Menlo miscues, totaling 21 points off turnovers, including a 72-yard fumble recovery TD for junior defensive end Michael MacClanathan to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
At the time the Oaks trailed 23-3 at the beginning stages of the final frame. Senior quarterback Matt Pelasasa and the rest of the Menlo offense was in the midst of a lengthy drive that began on the Oaks 24-yard line with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter. Menlo's march down the field picked up life when Linfield's Tim Edmonds was charged with a roughing the kicker penalty on a 4th-and-6 from the Oaks 28.
The now new life offense continued it's potential assault on the end zone with a 27-yard pass completion, Pelasasa to junior wide out Michael Alexander to push the ball to the Wildcats 30. On the ensuing play the Oaks' signal caller hooked up with senior wide receiver Robert Adan on an 11-yard completion to enter the red zone. A 3-yard rush by Pelasasa, and a 4-yard scamper by sophomore Jake Fohn, closed out the third with Menlo facing a 3rd-and-3 from the Linfield 12 when the fourth began.
Pelasasa began the final period with an 8-yard run to convert the third-and-short, setting the Oaks up for their first touchdown, as the ball now sat on the 4-yard line. Three plays later with Menlo backed up the Linfield 13, Pelasasa's rush went awry. The native of nearby Redwood City coughed up the ball, which was recovered by the aforementioned MacClanathan, who promptly turned it in for six the other way to give the Wildcats a commanding 30-3 advantage.
Pelasasa ended the afternoon 9-of-15 for 118-yards, ran for an additional 51, while turning the ball over three times on two fumbles and one interception.
On the opposite side of the equation, Linfield's senior quarterback Mickey Inns completed just ten passes on 25 attempts, totaling 172-yards, but did toss two touchdowns and catch a third in the Wildcat win.
Inns broke the scoreless clash early in the second quarter, after the two squads traded zeros over the first 15 minutes of play. Linfield began their first scoring drive at the Menlo 45, after the Wildcats grabbed one of the Oaks three costly fumbles. Eight plays later, Inns connected with senior wide receiver Diedre Wiersma for a 14-yard TD to give Linfield a 7-0 lead.
Less than five minutes later, Inns and the rest of the Wildcats offense was at it again. On the ensuing Linfield drive, Inns joined up with senior Lucas Jepson on a 40-yard scoring strike to cap off a 6-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that doubled up the score at 14-0 in favor of the Wildcats.
Menlo would go into the half with points on the board, thanks to sophomore Benjamin Vega splitting the uprights on a 31-yard field goal to make it a 14-3 affair as the two teams headed for intermission. It wasn't until 7:13 left in the game that the Oaks would add to their three, behind a Pelasasa rush from 4-yards out to chop the deficit to 30-9 (missed extra point).
Menlo put together another solid game on the ground, rushing for 147 in the first career Oaks loss for first year Head Coach Mark Speckman. Pelasasa and Fohn both led the charge with 51-yards gained, while the explosive Thomas Reynolds ran for just 15-yards on only three carries. Linfield's Josh Hill led all rushers with 113 on the ground, averaging an impressive 6.3 yards per attempt.
Michael Alexander led all players with five receptions, totaling 76-yards, while Robert Adan snatched three passes for 23-yards. Defensively, the Oaks did not record a sack, with junior Dylan Bunfill leading the unit with seven total tackles and two pass breakups.
Now at 1-1, Menlo will get ready for their third straight road game to begin the 2012 campaign next Saturday, September 8th against Pomona-Pitzer. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00pm.