Is magic in the air for the Sagehens? The last-minute victory on Saturday might say so.
Continuing their undefeated streak, the Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) football team pulled their second win of the season last Saturday against the University of Redlands — their first against the school in eighteen years.
The Sagehens stunned the Redlands’ Bulldogs during their home-opener, capping off a 13 point, fourth quarter comeback with a walk-off touchdown and extra point to seal a dramatic 21-20 victory.
The P-P offense started hot, taking advantage of a Redlands turnover on downs in midfield by marching into the red zone. Following some key runs by quarterback Skylar Noble PZ ’23 and running back Kenric Jameison PZ ’23 to convert on third and fourth down respectively, a defensive facemask penalty put them in prime position to score. The Sagehens then took the Bulldogs by surprise, breaking out a trick play in which Jameison took on the role of passer, completing his throw to tight end Sander Wimmer PZ ’24 for his first career touchdown pass.
“All week we’ve been going through that play,” Jameison said. “We knew it was coming, we ran it to perfection, and that’s what happened.”
Despite recovering a botched snap deep in Bulldog territory on the following drive, the Sagehens’ momentum seemed to stall after a missed field goal prevented them from adding to their lead.
Beginning the second quarter, the Bulldogs began to dominate. They scored their first touchdown with 1 minute and 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
Even with the tied score, chants of “P-P on the field” and “Let’s go Sagehens” echoed throughout the crowd, which was packed with students and parents alike adorned in the Sagehens’ orange and blue.
However, these chants faded fast. After taking three sacks in the first half, Pomona-Pitzer’s Noble started the second half taking some big hits on a few designed runs, stalling their offense and pushing momentum towards Redlands. Quarterback Noble was on the run all day, recording 19 rushing attempts for 36 yards. Nevertheless, Noble praised his offensive line for their efforts.
“I was making throws, I was running, but I have to credit a lot of this to our line even though I was taking some shots,” said Noble. “They did their job … this win was totally not on me.”
Following a change in possession, the Bulldogs came out throwing, completing a wild bobbling catch to set them up in prime position to score. Nevertheless, the P-P defense would not be deterred. On a crucial third down, lineman Mark Carling PZ ’23 delivered a sack to force a deep field goal for Redlands. On the next play, the Sagehens came up big, blocking the field goal to keep it a one score game.
“I saw that our coach gave us a play call that was gonna set me up to make a play,” Carling said. “Sure enough, our field goal block came out, and they did their thing … it was good to see all the different parts of the team come together to change the momentum of the game.”
Still, the P-P offense remained stagnant and could not capitalize on the opportunity, returning the ball to Redlands. After a defensive miscue by the Sagehens, the Bulldogs were able to turn a short pass into an easy touchdown, followed by a missed extra point, to take a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Seemingly out of nowhere, with time running low, Noble found a new favorite target, Quinten Wimmer PZ ’24. The duo marched their team down the field, bringing life back to the Sagehen hopefuls. Adding to what would become a 92-yard receiving day, Quinten matched his brother Sander with a touchdown of his own to bring the game within a single score, 13-20.
“It’s the home opener … the crowd helped us, no doubt,” Quinten Wimmer said. “What that comes down to is uber focus … making the plays when it counts.”
Just as things were looking up for the P-P offense, a fumbled snap at midfield recovered by Redlands gave them excellent field position to put the game away.
While this put them in dire straits, the P-P defense refused to back down. The Sagehens locked up the Bulldogs when it mattered most, coming up big on third down to set up a fourth-and-1 for all the marbles. Potentially still feeling the effects of the blocked kick, Redlands made the choice to go for it. Against all odds, the defensive line came up with their play of the game, handing the ball back to their offense for one last shot at the win.
“We knew how important that play was,” Mark Carling said of the defensive effort. “That was from our hearts … everyone bought in, our coach made a great call and we executed it.”
Noble noticeably shifted gears during this drive. Finishing the final drive with 68 yards passing, 9 yards rushing and a completion percentage of 75 percent, Noble brought his team to the goal line, spiking the ball with 0.3 second left on the clock. Just as he had all game, Noble was forced out of the pocket, running almost all the way to the sideline. Despite it looking like the Bulldogs were about to extend their undefeated streak, Noble found Wimmer in the end zone as time expired to tie the game 20-20, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“When I was rolling out, I didn’t think I had anything, and then I saw Sander coming across,” Noble said. “That’s a guy I’d trust with my own kids if I had them. I threw it, and he made the play … everybody else is making plays for me. They did it. They won.”
But the game was not over. In order to seal the win, starting punter and backup kicker, Cameron Shirangi PZ ’24 would have to knock down the game-ending extra point. A nervous hush swept over the crowd as they anticipated the kick, only exasperated by Redlands’ attempt to ice him.
“I’ve just done it a thousand times,” said Shirangi. “Just another day kicking a ball. Zone everybody else out. That’s it.”
Shirangi’s kick was a bullet through the uprights, summoning a roar from the P-P fans and bringing the Sagehens a comeback victory straight out of a movie. Noble’s performance earned him SCIAC Athlete of the Week honors, going 32-52 passing with 276 yards in the air and two touchdowns.
The Sagehens’ win improves them to 2-0 on the year and brings a wave of momentum as they travel to Oregon on Sept. 17 to face Pacific University.