Late Pick Seals Close Tilt at Whittier

Trey Smith scored two touchdowns on Saturday night.
Trey Smith scored two touchdowns on Saturday night.

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team escaped Whittier on Saturday night with a 41-34 victory over the Poets. Whittier scored 17 fourth-quarter points and were driving in the final two minutes looking for the game-tying score, but Cade Moffatt (CMC) snagged his first career interception with 1:23 remaining to seal the victory for the Stags.

A heavy dose of the run-game fueled the Stags all night long. Garrett Cheadle (HMC) and Spencer Sheff (CMC) highlighted the attack with 227 yards on the ground and four scores between them. Cheadle scampered for 149 yards on 16 carries including a 59-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. Sheff went for three touchdowns in the game and ran for 78 yards on 15 attempts.

Trey Smith (CMC) hauled in two passes and made them both count. Smith grabbed a six-yard touchdown in the first-quarter before snagging a 33-yard strike in the third-quarter.

The back-and-forth battle started with an opening drive touchdown for the Poets that capped off a nine-play, 81-yard drive that took the first 3:57 of the game.

On the following kick-off, Jordan Leonard (CMC) put the Stags in great field position with a 54-yard return into Whittier territory. Later in the drive, Leonard broke off a 24-yard rush that helped set up a six-yard pass from Sam Healy (CMC) to Smith for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

After a quick three-and-out for the Poets, CMS put seven more points on the board. The eight-play, 51-yard drive was finished by Sheff with a seven-yard rushing touchdown to give the Stags a 14-7 lead.

The next two drives ended in touchdowns for both the Poets and Stags. Whittier quarterback Miguel Avina crossed the goal-line on a two-yard rush and Sheff again, punched it in from seven-yards out. CMS had their extra point attempt blocked, but the Stags held a 20-14 lead midway through the quarter.

Whittier knocked through a 41-yard field goal at the end of the half, but the Stags led 20-17 at the break.

Another tremendous kick return put the Stags in great field position to start the second-half. This time it was Cheadle hustling 55 yards down to the Whittier 35-yard line. Five plays later, the Stags were in the painted grass thanks to a 13-yard run from Sheff. Sheff's third score of the game gave CMS a 27-17 lead just 2:33 into the second-half.

After a punt by the Poets, CMS went 80 yards in nine plays for another touchdown. Cheadle gained 21 yards on the ground during the drive, but it was a 33-yard pass from Jake Norville (CMC) to Smith that put the Stags up 34-17.

After a field goal from the Poets, the Stags were forced to punt for the only time all night. Following the punt, the Poets went on a 10-play, 58-yard drive that ended in a 23-yard touchdown pass to pull Whittier within a score at 34-27.

On the ensuing drive for CMS, Leonard ran for a pair of five-yard pick-ups before Cheadle busted off a 59-yard run to the end zone. The dash put the Stags up 14 and ended a quick, three-play drive that took just 1:25 off the clock.

A 10-yard rushing touchdown from Avina pulled the Poets with a score at 41-34 and the Stags were unable to run out the clock, getting stopped on fourth and five. The turnover on downs gave the ball back to Whittier with 2:22 remaining for a chance to tie the game. Needing 70 yards to tie, the Poets pushed the ball into CMS territory with a 19-yard pass on the third play of the drive. Looking for the long-ball, Avina's pass was intercepted by Cade Moffatt on the CMS 11-yard line. The Stags rushed for a first-down before taking a knee to close out the 41-34 victory and improve to 2-1 on the season (1-0 SCIAC).

The Stags will be back at home next Saturday when they host Occidental at 1:00 p.m.