For the third time in their young season, the Sagehens were playing with a lead. Pomona-Pitzer had been up 7-0 and 13-7 against Lewis & Clark the previous week, but both scores were wiped away by touchdowns on the Pioneers’ ensuing drives—the Sagehens simply couldn’t hold on to a lead. This week was different. Not only did the Sagehens manage to stop the Chapman Panthers after scoring on the their opening possession, but the P-P defense showed uncharacteristic resolve, limiting the Panthers to a single touchdown and protecting a 28-7 lead with 2:20 left in the first half. A muffed kickoff, however, led to a quick touchdown by the Panthers and a palpable change in the game’s momentum. The rest, as they say, was history.
Despite their slow start, the Chapman Panthers scored 31 unanswered points en route to a 45-35 victory over the P-P Sagehens last Saturday. Chapman’s grind-it-out attack ultimately overwhelmed a Sagehen defense already weakened by a slew of injuries across its line. Four different rushers scored for the Panthers, and the average Chapman touchdown play came from 26 yards outside the end zone. Although it was certainly a tough loss to swallow, the Sagehens were not short on highlights.
Ryan Randle PO ’14 had the game of his life against Chapman, catching 11 balls for 145 yards (over half of the team’s total passing yardage), snagging two touchdowns, returning kickoffs, and even recording a tackle on an interception. More impressive than his raw numbers, however, were the circus-like catches that Randle seemed to make on every drive. If you blinked, you likely missed yet another body contortion or absurd leap. Randle’s most memorable catch was certainly his touchdown grab on fourth down late in the final quarter to bring the Sagehens within three points of Chapman. Reminiscent of former-Steeler Santonio Holmes’s grab to win Superbowl XLIII, Randle caught a high Luke Furguson PO ’13 pass with the tips of his finger, just managing to drag his left foot as he fell out of the corner of the end zone. Randle’s offensive explosion dazzled everyone at Merritt Field. That is, everyone except his teammates, who weren’t surprised in the least.
“Ryan’s a talented, hard-working guy,” Sagehen linebacker Ben Lieber PO ’15 said after the contest. “It was only a matter of time before he had a breakout game.” Randle’s teammates knew they had talent at the wide receiver position. In fact, the only thing surprising about his performance was that “it didn’t happen sooner,” according to Lieber.
Quarterback Ferguson and running back Luke Sweeney PO ’13 also had a solid performances. Despite only 31 rushing attempts—ten lower than his season average—Sweeney gained 185 yards on the ground and was a first down machine during Pomona-Pitzer’s 28-7 streak to begin the game. Ferguson contributed over 220 yards passing for the second straight week, and carved up the Panther defense late in the game to bring the Sagehens back within a field goal, 35-38. Unfortunately, P-P was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick and had to watch as Chapman marched into the end zone to secure the victory.
P-P lost a game it could have won and fell to 0-3 on the season, but the future certainly isn’t bleak. The Sagehens know that if their defense can play consistently as a unit: they have a star quarterback, a breakout wide receiver, and one of SCIAC’s best rushers ready to roll up the points. They look to do just that and capture their elusive first win when they travel to the 2-1 Redlands Bulldogs for a 7:00 p.m. game this Saturday, Oct. 8.