CLAREMONT, Calif. – In the final game of the 2016 season, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team beat cross-campus rivals Pomona-Pitzer 23-21. This win marks the fourth over the Sagehens for the CMS graduating class of 2017.
The Stags will wrap up their second consecutive season with a 7-2 record, and at 5-2, place second in the SCIAC behind the 7-0 Redlands Bulldogs.
Head coach Kyle Sweeney noted "Four straight wins over Pomona-Pitzer for these seniors is quite an accomplishment. I am proud of the team for battling through injuries this season and putting the team first."
The CMS defense held Pomona-Pitzer scoreless in the first half. In in their initial drive, the Sagehens got all the way down to the 10 yard line but the Stags pushed them back to force a 29-yard field goal attempt. The kick missed wide right, a foreboding sign of the impending drought. Ultimately, the Stags played 55 minutes and 18 seconds of shutout football.
CMS put up three points on its first drive off the leg of senior Matthew Aven (CMC). Aven's kick from 46 yards was his longest of the season and got the offense going. After the Sagehens went for it on fourth down in their own territory, the Stags forced and incomplete pass and then started their drive on Pomona-Pitzer's 39 yard line. CMS converted on their own fourth down opportunity at the end of the first quarter and then opened up the second quarter with a touchdown. Senior Trey Reynolds (CMC) found classmate Lucas Owan (CMC) in the end zone for a 17-yard reception. Freshman Rami Lieberman (CMC) knocked in the extra point and the Stags took the 10-0 lead which they maintained through halftime.
The Stags almost put six more points on the board when junior Geno Quaid (CMC) made an interception on CMS' own 15, and thanks to a few laterals, ran it back to the PP six yard line. Unfortunately, time expired on the play so CMS did not have the opportunity to punch in any points.
In Pomona-Pitzer's first possession of the second half, the CMS defense made a big sack to put the Sagehens in a fouth and 22 situation.
After a short punt, Reynolds connected with Owan again for his second TD of the day to put CMS up 17-0. This time, Owan made a 42-yard reception which tied his career long earlier this season against Washington & Lee.
On the ensuing drive, the decorated Stag defense made arguably the biggest stop of the season. Pomona-Pitzer advanced down to the CMS two yard line after a pass interference penalty and two completions. The defensive line, led by senior Henry Wei (CMC), stopped two rushes on first and second downs. The Sagehens, looking for other options, went to their passing game and could not finish the play, ultimately turning the ball over on their own three yard line.
After a grinding three quarters for the CMS defense, the Sagehens finally broke through in the fourth as the momentum started to shift. Aseal Birir found an open hole and ran for forty yards, and was pushed out just before the goal line by Quaid. Pomona-Pitzer got on the board with an athletic receiving touchdown by Kevin Masini to make the score 17-7 at 4:42 left in the game.
PP tacked on seven more points thanks to two long receptions by Masini from Edward Sias.
Trailing just 17-14, the Sagehens attempted an onside kick but it did not travel far enough for the kicking team to recover without being penalized. Senior Connor Stastny (CMC) seized the opportunity for heroics and ran the kick back for another Stags touchdown with 1:04 remaining.
The Sagehens played 51 seconds of hurry-up offense and matched the Stags with seven points of their own but it was not enough as CMS came away with the 23-21 victory.
Owan ended up with 77 yards of total offense while Reynolds was just shy of the 200-yard mark in passing.
Defensively, sophomore Christian Tchamitchian (CMC) contributed a sack in his first career start while the Stags recorded two for a total of 16 yards. Kevin Shoyer (HMC), Victor Bunce (CMC) and Brendan MacDonald (CMC) led with seven tackles each.
By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director
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