CLAREMONT, Calif. - Junior running back Garrett Cheadle set a program record for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football with 274 rushing yards to lead the Stags to a 34-21 win over Whittier on Saturday afternoon at Zinda Field.
With the win, CMS improves to 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the SCIAC, needing one more win to clinch at least a share of its first league title since 1987. The Stags will have their first chance at the SCIAC Championship next week at home against Chapman (1 p.m.) before closing out at Pomona-Pitzer on Nov. 10. Whittier falls to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in the SCIAC with the loss.
Cheadle did most of his damage in the first half, carrying for 204 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 carries to stake CMS to a 27-14 lead at the break. His third touchdown was a 75-yarder on the first play from scrimmage following a Whittier touchdown, which put him over 1,000 yards for the year, the first Stag to accomplish that feat since Ryan Gocong in 2002. Midway through the fourth, he stood at 259 yards, two shy of the single-game mark set by Chris Dabrow against La Verne in 1987. He finished it off 15-yard carry up the middle to give him 274 on the day.
FB: With this carry, Garrett Cheadle (Harvey Mudd '20) sets the single season CMS rushing record with 274 yards, breaking Chris Dabrow's mark of 261, set in 1987. CMS defeats Whittier 34-21 to move to 5-0 in SCIAC. pic.twitter.com/t5ucsrfhco— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) October 27, 2018
The win also made the senior class the winningest class in CMS history with their 24th win in four seasons. The Stags picked up seven wins in both 2015 and 2016 before slipping to four last year, but with the six this season, they pass last year's class for the most wins in the program's annals. It was perhaps fitting that a rushing record was set as well, as four of the nine seniors on the team are offensive linemen (three starters): Brian Wahl, Jackson Tate, Malcolm Stolarski and Jim Kineally, as they helped pave the way for Cheadle's mark, along with junior center Jett Zeimantz, junior right tackle Matthew May, and sophomore left tackle Jacob Lyle.
"Those guys mean a ton," said Cheadle after the game. "They are the ones who open up the holes and all I do is find them. Huge shout out to those guys."
"It feels good, definitely," said Wahl of the record. "We have a good supporting cast, all five of us kind of blocking together as a unit, to support Garrett and his achievements. We love blocking for the kid."
FB: Garrett Cheadle (@harveymudd '20) celebrates his single-game CMS rushing record (274 yards) postgame with the offensive line (Lyle, Wahl, Zeimantz, Tate, May - and Stolarski in foreground) after CMS defeats Whittier 34-21 pic.twitter.com/C7YAYSdTpK— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) October 27, 2018
Cheadle's first touchdown came out of the Wildcat formation, which CMS put in three weeks ago, as he rambled 52 yards down the right side to make the score 7-0 just 1:43 into the game. Whittier responded, though, and went 98 yards on its second possession to tie the score at 7-7 when Daniel Garlick found Brian Phelan for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The Stags got that touchdown back on its second play of the second quarter, when sophomore quarterback Jake Norville found sophomore tight end Zach Heffernan from 14 yards out, the third time the sophomore duo has connected on a touchdown pass this season. Cheadle then stretched the lead to 21-7 with 11:10 left in the half, after sophomore returner Ethan Takeyama had a 36-yard punt to give the Stags a short 39-yard field to work with. Cheadle carried for nine yards on the first two carries of the drive, and then plunged over on 3rd-and-1 for a first down, yet kept his legs churning and broke free for a 30-yard run.
Whittier again answered to close to within 21-14, but after a touchback, Cheadle rambled 75 yards for the longest play from scrimmage for the Stags this season, making the score 27-14 with 7:36 left in the quarter, which is where it stood heading into the break.
Sophomore running back Jordan Leonard stretched the lead to 34-14 with a three-yard touchdown run with 4:03 left in the third, but the Stags still had to withstand one last Whittier push. The Poets scored on a Garlick to Phelan pass with 12:44 left in the fourth and then got the ball back with 10:18 to go and drove into CMS territory. On fourth down at the 28-yard line, though, Matthew Stuppiello and Connor Lehner combined on a sack to thrwart the drive with 6:25 to go, and the Stags killed the rest of the clock.
Cheadle only carried the ball 22 times to get his 274 yards on the day, with only one of his carries going for a loss when he fumbled a snap out of the Wildcat. Senior linebacker Mitchell Allan led the defense with nine tackles, while sophomore defensive back Cade Moffatt had eight and junior linebacker Camrion Davis added seven. Freshman cornerback Benjamin Cooney added five tackles and his second interception of the year.
CMS will be back in action on Saturday when it hosts Chapman at 1 p.m. in essentially a battle for the SCIAC Championship. A win would give CMS the league crown, even before it plays Pomona-Pitzer on Nov. 10 (CMS could still finish in a tie with Redlands in that scenario, but it would have a head-to-head win). A loss to Chapman would potentially create a three-way tie with Chapman, Redlands and CMS for first place, and require the Stags to win across the street in order to claim its share of its first SCIAC title since 1987.