For the first time in six years, the Peace Pipe is once again in the hands of the mighty Sagehens. On homecoming Saturday, the Pomona-Pitzer football team overpowered the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags on its way to a convincing 37-0 victory over the cross-street rivals. The Sagehens finished the season 1-8 and 1-5 in SCIAC.
There had been talk among the P-P players going into the game that they did not just want to win, but that they wanted to make it clear that they were the better team. Before the game, Coach Roger Caron said to his team that he did not want to win because of a CMS mistake or a lucky bounce, but instead he wanted the Sagehens to take the game into their own hands and leave no doubt about who was the better team on the field. P-P did just that from the very first drive of the game and continued to dominate the Stags until the final whistle.
The defensive unit started the game off on the right foot for the Hens, forcing the Stags to punt after five plays. On their very first offensive drive, the Sagehens knew there was history on the line. Only 10 yards away from breaking the P-P career rushing record, star running back Luke Sweeney PO ’13 ran for six yards on his first carry of the game. Two plays later, Sweeney got the ball again and moved the pile for seven yards, moving him into first place in the record books. Sweeney finished the game with a very impressive 247 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns; throughout the game, he was unwilling to go down, brushing off tacklers left and right. Sweeney finished his career with 3,004 career rushing yards and now holds the P-P records for most rushing yards in a single game with 265, rushing yards in a single season with 1,419 last year and now total career rushing yards. He ran for over 200 yards in four games during his career.
Sweeney would finish that drive with a 39-yard scoring run down the sideline to put the Hens up 7-0, and the Hens stayed on top for the rest of the game. The Sagehens added to their lead halfway through the second quarter when quarterback Luke Ferguson PO ’13 connected with Yoshi Rothman PO ’13 in the back of the endzone for an 18-yard scoring strike.
The only thing that went wrong for the Hens on Saturday occurred halfway during the second quarter. Offensive lineman Kevin “Red” Ludlum PO ’13 went down with an ankle injury and had to be carted off the field and taken to the hospital for surgery. The Sagehens, however, rallied around Ludlum and, in many ways, played to victory for their injured teammate.
After a few halftime adjustments on both sides of the ball, P-P picked up where they left off and continued to pound the ball against the struggling CMS defense. On the very first possession of the second half, running back Brett Harper PO ’16 took an option pitch from Ferguson and scooted down the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown run, stretching the score to 23-0 and getting the home crowd back into the game.
Running back Michael Schwartz PZ ’13 was impressed by how well the offense executed Coach Caron’s halftime adjustments.
“I loved that we reiterated how the option is supposed to be blocked up during half time and then immediately ran it for a touchdown out on the field,” Schwartz said.
Harper added another score to his tally on the Hens’ very next possession. After driving down the field to the CMS 23-yard line, Harper motioned out from the backfield, forcing one of the CMS linebackers to cover the speedy running back down the field. Harper broke free and caught a nice pass from Ferguson, cutting into the end zone for the touchdown. The Hens kept the ball rolling after the defense forced yet another CMS punt. The Hens once again drove down the field, thanks in large part to a 30-yard reception by standout wide receiver and safety Duncan Hussey PO ’13, on a deep fade route. Sweeney finished off the drive with very impressive 13-yard run in which he not only made a few Stags miss with a spin move but also powered his way into the endzone for his second score of the game.
While the offense slowed down a little bit in the fourth quarter, the defense continued their strong performance and shut down the CMS offense to keep the shutout in tact. The P-P defense even forced two turnovers, both on interceptions on back-to-back CMS possessions. Colin Brown PO ’16 got into the act first, picking off a fifty-fifty ball over a much taller CMS receiver. Weston Staubus PO ’14 got the second P-P interception deep in Sagehen territory to keep the Stags out of the end zone and ensure the shutout for the Hens.
During a season that did not see many breaks fall in favor of P-P, the win was certainly a bright spot for the Hens, and it allowed them to end the season and enter the off-season on a high note. It was especially neat for the eleven seniors on the team to go out in style with the Peace Pipe in their hands for the first time in their careers. This was the second-worst loss of the season for the Stags, who finished last in SCIAC with zero wins on the season.
Brett Lingle PO ’13, who only joined the team during his junior year, was excited to get his first victory with the Sagehens. “In the only football win of my life, my best friends and I beat CMS 37-0. It was sweet,” Lingle said.
Finally, Luke Ferguson captured the sentiments of the entire team after the game when he said, “The Sagehens run this town.”