After jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first half, the Pomona-Pitzer football team lost a heartbreaker to the Whittier College Poets 34-20 this past Saturday. The Sagehens are now 0-5 on the season and 0-3 in SCIAC.
The defense came out strong against a first-place Whittier offense. On the first two possessions, the Sagehen defense forced turnovers on downs deep in their own territory. After the second stop, the P-P offense picked up steam and drove down the field to get into field goal range. Kicker Michael Weil PO ’14 made a 20-yard field goal to give the Hens an early 3-0 lead.
The Sagehen defense was not done. On the next two drives, they came up big yet again, forcing fumbles to end both drives and swing momentum in favor of the home crowd. Linebacker Jake Rollins PO ’13 forced both of the fumbles and recovered the first one himself. The P-P offense took advantage of the second turnover, finding pay dirt when quarterback Luke Ferguson PO ’13 found Yoshi Rothman PO ’13 deep down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown. After the PAT, the Sagehens led 10-0, but the Poets responded minutes later with a score of their own.
In a recurring trend this season, the Sagehens followed up their strong performance in the first half with a disappointing second-half effort that ultimately cost them the game. Coming out of halftime with a 10-7 lead, the Sagehens’ offense stalled on their first four possessions of the third quarter, including giving up a pick six to the Whittier defense that gave the Poets a 13-10 lead. The Poets continued to add to their lead, and, despite a touchdown reception by Ryan Randle PO ’14 and another field goal by Weil, they had a 27-20 lead with less than four minutes to go in the game.
After a failed onside kick attempt, the Poets ran through the P-P offense for another touchdown and effectively put the game out of reach for the Hens. After the game, Coach Roger Caron told the team that he was proud of their effort and that there was no reason to hang their heads. He did, however, point out that the offense left a lot of yards on the field, and there were certainly some plays that could have, and possibly should have, been made that would have tipped the final outcome in the Sagehens’ favor.
Safety Don Swan PO ’15 also thought that the Sagehens had their fair share of bad luck in the game.
“If the Sagehens didn’t have bad luck then we would have no luck at all,” Swan said.
Several calls seemed to go the way of the Poets, including a strange play on a Whittier punt late in the third quarter. After the snap went over the head of the punter, the punter got off a weak line drive kick as a couple of Sagehens bore down on him. After the ball bounced around in the middle of the field, the Poets ultimately fell on the ball, seemingly ending the play and giving the ball to the P-P offense. The referees, however, claimed that a Sagehen defender had touched the ball while it was bouncing around, making it a live ball for the Poets to recover, and awarded the ball to Whittier. While Whittier did not score on the ensuing drive, momentum was already shifting in favor of the Poets.
The Sagehens square off against the University of La Verne Leopards this weekend on the road. The Leopards are 2-3 on the season and are coming off a tough home loss to perennial powerhouse University of Redlands. Swan expressed some concern over the injuries that might sideline numerous Hens this week, including Luke Sweeney PO ’13 with a hamstring injury, Peter Ferrin PO ’14 with a concussion and Randle with a leg injury.
“Our number-one priority is to get healthy on both sides of the ball,” Swan said. “When our team is at 100 percent, we have the ability to compete with anyone in the conference. La Verne is a solid team with a skilled running back. The defense has a big challenge this week to try and stop La Verne’s rushing attack. The offense will look to move the ball against the tough La Verne defense. I am excited to show that our team can put together an entire game this coming Saturday.”
The Sagehens play Saturday at 1 p.m. at La Verne.