Linfield bows out of playoffs
Linfield's football season has been done in by No. 1.
Mary Hardin-Baylor, defending national champion and top-ranked in both NCAA Division III polls, shut down the Wildcats in a 24-0, second-round playoff home victory Saturday afternoon at Belton, Texas.
The Crusaders blocked a punt on Linfield's first possession and capitalized for a 7-0 lead, and outgained the No. 7/8 Wildcats in total offense, 378 yards to 220.
Mary Hardin-Baylor, which also beat host Linfield 24-3 on Sept. 16, improved to 12-0 and advanced to next week's quafterfinals and a game against St. Thomas (Minnesota), which defeated Berry, 29-13, on Saturday.
Linfield's season ended 9-2, after being blanked for the first time in 16 years.
The blocked punt gave the Cru the ball at the Linfield 15-yard line. On second down, Bryce Wilkerson ran 17 yards for a touchdown.
To start the second quarter, Mary Hardin-Baylor drove 71 yards and nine plays to lead 14-0. Quarterback Carl Robinson raced 36 yards for the touchdown.
John Mowery kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead.
Linfield got into Cru territory for the first time late in the half, but stalled on downs at the 38.
The Cru made a big stand in the third quarter, after Linfield had marched to first-and-goal from the 3. In four plays, Wildcats runs went for one yard, one yard, a loss of three, and three yards.
MHB then drove 99 yards in six plays, including completions for 16, 20, 16, 14 and 32 yards, the latter a TD connection between Robinson and Jonel Reed.
Linfield's main running back, sophomore Chidebem Nnoli, carried 19 times for 37 yards.
Freshman QB Wyatt Smith, a sophomore from McMinnville and the son of Linfield coach John Smith, hit 20 of 31 passes for 182 yards, with one interception.
Keegan Weiss caught five passes for 43 yards. Kyle Kimball had four receptions for 43 yards. J.D. Lasswell caught four balls for 53 yards, and Blake Burnett made four grabs for 28 yards.
Robinson was 18 of 27 passing for 227 yards, without an interception.
Mary Hardin-Baylor led in first downs, 23-12.
The Cru were 8 of 14 on third-down conversions; Linfield was 1 for 14.