Despite a late surge in the fourth quarter, the Pomona-Pitzer football team lost its second game of the season this past Saturday to the Lewis and Clark Pioneers 31-13. The Sagehens are 0-2 for the season with the team’s first SCIAC game of the season slated for next weekend.
For the first road game of the season, the team traveled all the way to Portland, Oregon to face off against Lewis and Clark College. The Hens left the cozy confines of Claremont Friday morning for their short flight out of the Ontario airport. To honor the newly-established tradition among the team, many of the players donned Aloha Shirts for Casual Friday. After their brief stay in Portland, the Sagehens flew back shortly after the game and were even able to watch the end of Stanford’s upset of USC in the Oakland airport.
Going into the game, many expected an offensive shootout, considering last year’s game finished with a final score of 48-39, and P-P has never put up less than 35 points against the Pioneers. The Sagehens certainly knew Lewis and Clark had one major offensive threat in senior quarterback Keith Welch. The reigning Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Welch has put up huge numbers throughout his career as a dual threat quarterback with the agility and speed to make a sure sack into a quarterback scramble for 12 yards. Unfortunately for the Hens, Welch made some big plays that proved fatal for P-P.
The Pioneer offense came out firing in the first quarter and drove down the field for an efficient nine-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard scramble by Lewis and Clark quarterback Welch for a touchdown. On their first drive of the game, P-P turned over the ball on a fumble, but the Hens’ defense was able to shut down Welch and the Pioneer offense for the next few drives, even forcing a couple of three-and-outs in the second quarter. The P-P offense continued to struggle, though, and the Pioneers took a 17-0 lead into halftime.
During halftime, Head Coach Roger Caron decided to put in Peter Ianelli PO ’15 as quarterback in hopes that the fleet-footed Ianelli could spark the P-P offense. While Ianelli worked to get the offense back on track, Welch remained unstoppable, and Lewis and Clark increased their lead to 31-0. In the fourth quarter, however, Ianelli led the offense to a late comeback, and the Hens scored two touchdowns unanswered. The first came on a 13-yard strike from Ianelli to Yoshi Rothman PO ’13 in the corner of the end zone. Rothman had a standout game for the Hens, racking up a total of 163 yards on 14 receptions. Travis Muraoka PZ ’13 scored the second touchdown for the Hens, hauling in a 16-yard pass from Ianelli through the middle of the Pioneer defense. The score was Muraoka’s first collegiate touchdown. Even though the comeback proved to be too little, too late, it did help the Hens gain some confidence going into the next game.
Despite the two early losses to non-conferences foes, the Sagehens remain optimistic about the season. After the game, Coach Caron made it clear that there were positives to take away from the game and that the team just needs to continue to improve.
“The team this year has a way different feel. More depth, more commitment, more experience. We have gotten off to a rough start but with [Luke] Sweeney [PO ’13] back soon we know we can turn things around. We are an extremely tight-knit bunch and we take a lot of pride in how hard we work. We cannot wait for our big rivalry games against Oxy and Claremont,” said Kyle Whalen PO ’15.
After a bye this weekend, the Hens open up SCIAC play next Saturday against the always-formidable Cal Lutheran Kingsmen. After making it to the Division III playoffs last year, the Kingsmen have high hopes for this season and are currently ranked ninth in the nation by d3football.com. Despite the tough matchup, the Hens have high expectations with Sweeney and Ryan Randle PO ’14 back in the lineup. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Cal Lutheran.