The Gresham High product makes his longest trek into the college playoffs as a starting QB

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Gresham High grad Mickey Inns calls out the play at the line of scrimmage during last weeks 30-14 win over North Central, Ill. Inns and his Linfield teammates host Wisconsin-Oshkosh in a 12 p.m. D3 quarterfinal playoff Saturday between unbeaten teams.

Linfield may have lost on the stat sheet last week against North Central, but the No. 3-ranked Wildcats won where it mattered most — on the scoreboard. And they won easily.

North Central’s powerful running game moved the ball up and down the field last week. The Cardinals put up 23 first downs — eight more than Linfield. They gained 181 yards rushing — Linfield had 26.

Despite being on the downside of those numbers, the Wildcats grew a 30-0 third-quarter lead and were never in danger of losing. Linfield went on to win 30-14, thanks in large part to a defense that forced seven turnovers.

Linfield (11-0) faces a similar opponent Saturday when Wisconsin-Oshkosh (12-0) comes to McMinnville. The Titans run the ball twice as often as they put it into the air behind a rushing attack led by halfback Cole Myhra (1,461 yards, 15 TDs) and QB Nate Wara (724 yards, 7 TDs).

“They have a big, powerful football team,” Linfield coach Joseph Smith said. “They mix the finesse option game with a power run attack, and they have a QB who can throw the deep ball.”

Caleb Voss is the Titans big-play threat in the passing game, averaging better than 20 yards per catch with 12 TDs.

He scored twice in the team’s 37-14 win over Bethel, Minn., last week — a game that saw Oshkosh trailing 14-0 late in the first half.

The Wildcats bring a defense that leads the nation in sacks and tackles for loss.

Linfield counters with a passing attack directed by senior QB, and Gresham High grad, Mickey Inns. During last week’s second-round win, he became the fifth passer in school history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season and 6,000 for a career.

His most spectacular play last week came in the third quarter when the pocket collapsed around him. Inns lunged through a gap, took two long strides, stopped just short of the line of scrimmage and launched a 64-yard scoring strike that hit receiver Lucas Jepson in stride for a 24-0 lead.

“Mickey is quite a competitor,” Smith said. “He can stand in there, take the hits and still deliver the ball on target. Not many QBs can maintain their accuracy with that much going on around them. He shows a lot of courage.”

Inns also has plenty of targets on the field with Jepson, Deidre Wiersma and Charlie Poppen as his big-play threats. Inns will have to keep an eye out for No. 2 in the secondary, as Tim Filter leads Oshkosh with eight picks.

“We’ll need to protect Mickey better and get something out of our run game. If we can do that we’ll be okay on offense,” Smith said.

Inns reached the second round of the playoffs last year before the Wildcats were knocked out with a 42-point second half by Wesley.

Oshkosh kicker Nate Ray has missed just one field goal all season, but is seldom used and hasn’t connected from beyond 40 yards. Meanwhile Linfield’s Josh Kay was 50-50 during the regular season, but is 3-for-3 in the playoffs with each coming from 40 yards and farther.

The battle of unbeatens is the highlight game among the D3 quarterfinal set with kickoff set for 12 p.m. Saturday. General Admission tickets are $10 and available when the ticket office opens at 10 a.m. on game day.

“I’m expecting a big crowd, and that’s something that can be to our advantage,” Smith said.

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