In their first SCIAC game of the season, the Pomona-Pitzer football team lost a hard-fought game to California Lutheran University, the eighth-ranked team in the nation. The loss brings the Sagehens’ record to 0-3 for the season and 0-1 in SCIAC.
Playing the eighth-best team in the nation is a daunting task for any team, and the Sagehens knew they would have to focus on coming out strong if they wanted to compete with the Kingsmen. The Hens defense did just that, forcing a punt after a quick three and out by the Cal Lu offense. Unfortunately the P-P offense could not take advantage and were forced to punt right back. The Kingsmen opened up the scoring on the very next drive. Their standout wide receiver, Eric Rodgers, made a 38-yard touchdown run on a sneaky reverse play that caught the Hens’ defense off-guard.
The P-P defense kept the opposing offense in check for the next few series, giving the Hens a chance to tie the game late in the first quarter after Brett Lingle PO ’13 sacked the Cal Lu quarterback and knocked the ball free. Colin Mitchell PO ’13 recovered the ball at the Cal Lu 29-yard line. The Hens proceeded to move the ball up to the Cal Lu 11-yard line, and on a fourth and two, the Hens decided to go for it rather than kick the field goal. The Kingsmen defense held strong, though, and stopped Luke Sweeney PO ’13 in the backfield.
Even with Sweeney back in the lineup for the P-P offense, the Hens found it hard to sustain any drives against the stout Cal Lu defense, which boasted a second team pre-season All-American at defensive tackle. The Hens could not find the scoreboard until the third quarter when Michael Weil PO ’14 made a 27-yard field goal, his first of the year, to bring the score to 28-3. Early in the fourth quarter, the Hens found pay dirt on a long pass connection between Luke Ferguson PO ’13 and receiver Yoshi Rothman PO ’13, who found space behind the Cal Lu secondary. Rothman finished the game with seven receptions for 111 yards and came up with quite a few big plays for P-P.
While the Hens’ defense allowed some big plays to Cal Lu’s playmakers, especially wide receiver Rogers, overall the defense played very well and kept the Hens in the game. The P-P defense forced three turnovers in the game, a season high. Kyle Roskamp PO ’14 made a great play to intercept the ball, batting it out of the air and coming down with the ball in traffic. Matt Tesimale PZ ’16 forced the third Sagehen turnover and his first career interception in the third quarter, diving to intercept the ball after two other players had tipped it. Corner Weston Staubus PO ’14 led the defense with 12 tackles.
While the final score might suggest otherwise, there were a lot of positives to take away from this game, and it certainly shows there is room for improvement. “Cal Lu is an excellent team, and I think that we showed a lot of heart against them. Unfortunately, they made some big plays, and we could only do our best to contain some of their bigger weapons. If we play the way we did against Cal Lu and clean a couple things up, we are going to have a successful season for the rest of the year and win some of those key games down the road,” said fullback Dalton Bolger PO ’14.
Tomorrow, the Sagehens face off against another tough SCIAC foe, Chapman University. The Panthers are coming off a comeback win over Whittier College, in which their running back ran for 251 yards and five touchdowns. The Sagehens defense will have to play well and shut down the potent running game of the Panthers to give the Hens a chance to win. This will be the Hens’ third straight road game, and many players are looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd eventually.
“All of these away games really make me want to play at home,” Sweeney said.
P-P plays at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Chapman, looking for their first win of the season.