Injuries Plague Football Team in Loss to La Verne

This past weekend, the Pomona-Pitzer football team lost a hard-fought game to the University of La Verne Leopards 34-24 on the road. The Sagehens’ record now stands at 0-6 for the season and 0-4 in SCIAC play.

Going into the game, the Sagehens knew it would be tough; both offenses wanted to run the ball and slow down the pace of the game.

P-P was also missing key players, including standout running back Luke Sweeney PO ’13, wide receiver Ryan Randle PO ’14 and linebacker Nicholas Sbardellati PO ’14. The Sagehens, however, used what they had to their advantage and made a game plan that fit the personnel. Both Duncan Hussey PO ’13 and Mike Etzel PO ’15, who are normally defensive players, played on both sides of the ball and led the team in receiving yards. Playing tight end in place of the injured Peter Ferrin PO ’14, Etzel finished with 103 yards receiving, with a big chunk of those yards coming on a 51-yard touchdown reception, the first of his collegiate career.

The Leopards came out strong and opened up a 10-0 lead with a little over two minutes left in the first quarter. After the La Verne touchdown, the Sagehens responded with a score of their own early in the second quarter. Quarterback Luke Ferguson PO ’13 found receiver Yoshi Rothman PO ’13 in the left corner of the endzone for a nine-yard score to bring the Hens within three.

Neither side scored for the rest of the half, but after halftime the Leopards busted out a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown, increasing their lead to 17-7 and swinging momentum in their favor. The Sagehens were not out of it yet, and they scored on their very next possession thanks to Etzel’s big catch. Despite the Hens’ best efforts, the Leopards continued to increase their lead, and the Hens’ chance at a comeback victory came to an end on a failed fourth-down play with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Coach Roger Caron said that the Hens were a few plays away from winning the game against La Verne and that they should be proud of how they played.

With all of the injuries plaguing the Hens going into the game, younger players got to see more action and gain some game experience, a very positive thing for P-P moving forward. Colin Brown PO ’16 got his first collegiate start at corner and was excited about the opportunity.

“It was really nerve-wracking to start for the first time, knowing that the whole team was counting on me. It was also very exciting though to know that everyone was able to trust me enough and to further my football career,” Brown said.

Fullback Grant Frazier PO ’16 also got in on the action, scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a powerful two-yard scoring run up the middle.

This Saturday, the Sagehens have another big SCIAC game against the Occidental College Tigers in the 114th edition of the “Battle of the Drum,” the oldest rivalry in Southern California. This is a big game due to the history and rivalry between the two teams, but it is especially important for the Sagehens. Not only are they still hoping for their first win of the season, but the Hens are looking to beat the Tigers for the first time since 2003. Coach Caron is optimistic about the game against Oxy, and said that it is definitely a winnable game for the Hens.

Brown stressed the importance of shutting down Oxy’s passing game, which ranks second in the conference.

“To beat Oxy, we have to be ready to cover the pass all game long. We have to be ready to run with their athletic wide receivers. Most importantly, we have to play with emotion and be aggressive. We have to go get the win, because they aren’t going to lay down and give it to us,”  Brown said.

Offensive lineman Garret Bell PO ’14 is also optimistic about the game.

“Oxy is ready to be beat. As long as we are physical and minimize offensive mistakes, we should be able to bring home the drum this weekend,” Bell said.

The Sagehens play Saturday at 7 p.m. at Oxy.

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