Tigers Tumble in NCAA First Round
Despite a valiant effort, Occidental fell behind No. 1-ranked Linfield early in its first-round playoff game and was unable to catch up, eventually losing 63-21 Saturday in McMinnville, Oregon.
The loss brings Occidental's overall record to 9-1 and closes another SCIAC championship season.
Linfield scored on its first two possessions and intercepted an Andy Collins pass on the next play from scrimmage, setting up a three-yard touchdown run by Pete Cruickshank 11 seconds later.
Quarterback Brett Eliott capped a two-play, 61-yard drive with a 32-yard touchdown to Casey Allen, stretching the lead to 28-0 with 12:02 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats showed a knack for big plays with five touchdowns of 30 yards or more.
Collins led the Tigers on three sustained drives early on, completing passes of 14 and 11 yards to Josh Jones on the opening possession, which stalled after an offensive pass interference penalty. Linfield sacked Collins twice to end Oxy's second series, a nine-play 43-yard effort, and a goal line fumble wasted a six-play, 72-yard drive late in the first half.
Occidental's first touchdown came via a Tim Tanous '06 interception that gave Oxy the ball at the Linfield 48. Collins completed a 21-yard pass to Ric Fukushima '06 and hit Jones with an 11-yarder seconds later.
Collins' four-yard touchdown run cut the Linfield lead to 28-7 with 5:40 left in the first half. The Wildcats mounted a 10-play, 80-yard drive and scored with 11 seconds left to take a 35-7 lead at halftime.
Collins completed a nine-play, 79-yard scoring drive with a 22-yard touchdown run early in the third and later tossed a 15-yard touchdown to Jones, the duo's 16th of the season. But the Tigers could not keep pace with Linfield, which scored on four consecutive second-half possessions.
Allen caught four touchdowns and finished with eight catches for 222 yards. Brandon Hazenburg hauled in 13 passes for 217 yards, including Linfield's last touchdown, a 65-yard bomb with 12:51 remaining.
Elliott completed 31 of 41 attempts for 525 yards and seven touchdowns. Collins finished 25 of 47 for 314 yards, two interceptions, and 123 yards rushing.
Saturday's game pitted the No. 1- and No. 5-ranked teams in NCAA Division III against each other in the first round. Linfield could potentially face a total of five teams ranked in the top 10 if it advances to its second straight Stagg Bowl.
Occidental closes another SCIAC championship season with an overall record of 9-1 -- the 14th one-loss season in school history -- and will likely remain ranked in the nation's top 10. Several Tigers are expected to receive All-SCIAC recognition when conference honors are released next week.