Facing off against the reigning SCIAC champions, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team (2-1, 1-0 SCIAC) put together one of their best performances in recent memory to topple the Chapman University Panthers off their perch and capture an impressive victory.
After four quarters of back-and-forth action the two teams headed into overtime with each side looking to break the 20-20 draw. The Stags wasted no time finding the endzone with a 13-yard rush from RB Shane Pico CM ’18, but Chapman (0-3, 0-1) responded in turn on their next drive to tie the game up again.
Chapman had the ball first to start the second round of overtime but only managed to score a field goal, giving CMS a golden opportunity to seal the victory. After two plays failed to net the Stags any significant yards, the team found itself with a third and nine and the game on the line. QB Trey Reynolds CM ’17 didn’t panic, though, and fired a 17-yard pass to WR Tyler Stanek CM '16 to keep the team alive.
Then, after two more rushes from Pico, CMS executed the deciding play. Keying in on the fact that CMS had had success running the ball, the Stags dialed up the read-option.
“Right before the play actually happened, when coach actually called it, I knew it was gonna score,” Reynolds said. “They weren’t lined up right to it on defense and Segre is so fast. It was a typical option play, so I tried my best to have the defense be lured by me and then give Segre the ball.”
After Reynolds scrambled to the right, drawing two Chapman defenders toward him, he pitched the ball at the last second to RB Andrew Segre CM '18, who raced around a would-be Panther tackler and into the endzone to clinch the victory for the Stags.
“For us, the key is staying confident and believing in ourselves,” DL Henry Wei CM '17 explained. “We’ve known from the first day of camp that we’re a really good team and we were confident in our mind it wasn’t going to be an upset. We were going to come out, execute our game plan, and we were going to win the game.”
The thrilling finale capped off a well-played game on both sides of the ball for the Stags. Reynolds threw for 296 yards in the game, the highest total in his CMS career, including a first-quarter touchdown to WR Trey Smith CM ’18.
“Initially they [Chapman] had it covered on the right and I got pressured a little, so I scrambled out and they all focused on Ryan Farney, who was the receiver under Trey,” Reynolds commented. “Trey was just wide open in the back of the end zone, so it was a simple pass and catch.”
On the other side of the ball, Wei was a beast for CMS, totaling 10 tackles and two sacks.
“I just executed our defense, and when the play was there for me to make I made the play,” Wei humbly stated. “The play just came to me, and that’s how it worked out. I just played my part, and I don’t do anything more or less important than anyone else on the team.”
The defensive line trio of Wei, DL Andrew Sova CM ’16 and DL Paul Slaats HM ’17 have been crucial to the Stags’ defensive efforts so far this season.
“Their running backs are smaller speed guys so we knew that if we contained them that they would have a problem because they’re a run-first team,” Wei said. “The philosophy of our defense is to stop the run first and make them one-dimensional.”
The Stags next take the field in an away tilt against University of La Verne (2-1, 1-0) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.
The Leopards are also a run-first team; they totaled 414 rushing yards in their last game against Occidental College (1-2, 0-1).
As Wei put it, “It’ll be strength vs. strength.”