On Saturday, Nov. 14, two teams with different season trajectories met on Zinda Field united by a common goal: to take down their Sixth Street rival. Boosted by the heightened energy brought on by the annual rivalry game between Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer, each squad fought fiercely in pursuit of their goal and the result was a tightly contested match, eventually decided in CMS’s favor, 20-17.
“I think when it comes down to it, we made plays when we needed to,” WR Ryan Farney CM ’16 said. “Tight games like this usually come down to one or two deciding plays on either side of the ball and fortunately for us, they went our way.”
QB Taylor Mensik PZ ’18, who took over as the Hens’ starter two weeks ago, continued his impressive play by passing for 226 yards and running for 100 more. The elusive Mensik proved tough for the Stags to contain throughout the day, including on P-P’s opening possession when he drove the Hens down the field using a balance of the pass and the run. However, just when it seemed like P-P had momentum on their side, CMS extinguished their hopes for a score as CB Victor Bunce CM ’18 forced a fumble and DB Robby Weissenfels CM ’18 scooped it up, ending the P-P drive.
CMS then returned the favor as QB Trey Reynolds CM ’17 drove the Stags down the field and RB Shane Pico CM ’18 punched it into the end zone from one yard out.
“I think we had a solid offensive and defensive game plan and even though there were certain times when things weren’t going our way, we stuck to it and it paid off,” Farney said. “Offensively, our only scoring drives came from opening drives, which is great that we were able to get rolling and grab the momentum early.”
Mensik wasted little time in responding, though. On the next possession, he burst past the CMS defense and motored 66 yards for the long touchdown. Mensik’s scrambling ability proved to be key for the Sagehens as he forced CMS to focus on the ground game, opening up opportunities for the pass. In particular, WR Brett Harper PO ’16 continued his torrid play, snagging 11 receptions for 193 yards including a 45-yard touchdown at the end of the first half to send the Hens into halftime with a 14-6 lead.
Harper also had two Sportscenter Top 10-quality plays, first laying out to make an incredible diving snatch and then rising above two CMS defenders to make a leaping over-the-shoulder catch to end his career on a highlight.
The Stags came out to start the second half determined to erase the deficit, though, and did just that by marching down the field and allowing RB Andrew Segre CM ’18 to infiltrate the end zone from two yards out.
Since CMS was down by two, the team went for the two-point conversion and executed a brilliant play design in which the whole Stag offense slanted to the right side of the field while Farney slipped unnoticed by the P-P defense over to the left side of the end zone, where Reynolds found him all alone for the easy conversion.
“We had drawn that play up as our 'two-point play' and have had it in our back pocket for the last few weeks,” Farney explained. “We ran it multiple times each week, so we had time to get the timing down. It is a play designed to get the defense flowing one way in hopes that they bite so that I can sneak opposite of the flow and be wide open. Fortunately, they gave us the look we wanted and we were able to execute. Trey threw a good ball and I am just glad that my coaches gave me the opportunity to get a little taste of the end zone in my final game.”
CMS tacked onto their lead even more when Reynolds hit WR Tyler Stanek CM ’16 for a five-yard TD strike to give the Stags a lead they would never relinquish. CMS (7-2, 6-1 SCIAC) finished the year in second place in SCIAC, only one game behind first place University of La Verne, while P-P (2-7, 1-6) ends the year in seventh place. Farney summed up the experience of seeing the team grow from last place into a dominant SCIAC force in only four years.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “As a program, we have been through so many ups and downs in the last four years and I really couldn’t be more proud of the other seniors who stuck with it. 0-9 is not fun. No matter how you slice it, it’s gonna sting. Bouncing back from that season to a team competing for SCIACS down to the last second has been quite a ride and something I will never forget. None of this would have been possible without this group of guys and our coaching staff. The people who stuck with the program when things weren’t looking good made this possible. I could not be more thankful to each and every person involved for making this experience what it was and sending the senior class out the right way.”