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Linfield D leads the nation in causing mayhem

The Wildcats unit is tops in Division-III when it comes to sacks and tackles for loss


by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Jesuit High graduate Dominique Forrest, a junior linebacker at Linfield, was named the leagues Outstanding Defensive Player.

North Central QB Spencer Stanek will have to double check to make sure he’s handing off to a player in a white jersey when the Cardinals come to Maxwell Field to face Linfield in the Division-III playoffs Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats defense has been wreaking havoc all season often breaking into the opposing backfield before the opposing team has a chance to take a breath. Linfield leads the nation in tackles for loss (114) and in quarterback sacks (56).

The defense came up with several key stands in Linfield’s 27-24 first-round win over Pacific Lutheran.

The first came late in the first half when a Linfield fumble gave the Lutes the ball at the 34-yard line on the edge of field-goal range. But Pacific Lutheran couldn’t advance the ball an inch. In fact, they went backward seven yards, ending with Marq Randall’s QB sack on third down to protect Linfield’s 20-7 lead heading into the halftime locker room.

The Lutes had a golden opportunity to take the lead late in the third quarter when a long pass completion put them on the doorstep with a 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

The end zone was just six feet away, but it might as well have been two miles.

Defensive back Tyler Robitaille slashed into the backfield and dropped the Lutes’ Niko Madison for a 1-yard loss on first down. That was followed with a QB keeper that went nowhere and an incomplete pass into the end zone.

“We pride ourselves on that,” Robitaille said. “You can put the ball on the 1-inch line and we’re going to keep you out. Stuffing them and holding them to three points was a momentum changer.”

It was also a four-point swing on the scoreboard in a game that the Wildcats would win by three.

The defense’s last stand came in the final two minutes when Mike Maierhofer and Brian Dundas each got through for sacks that prevented the Lutes from getting within range to attempt a tying field goal.

The Wildcats haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last seven games.

Brynnan Hyland leads the team in tackles for loss (19) and sacks (18), while linebacker Dominique Forrest leads the Wildcats in total tackles (66) and interceptions (3). Forrest was named the Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year.