Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College men's football team came out in impressive fashion as they won their first game of the 2011 season 66-48 over the Loggers of the University of Puget Sound, while at the same time winning their first home game since 2008 when they defeated Principia 44-6.
Whittier College (1-1) gained an astounding 651 total yards of offense, which is a new school record. It was an attack that came from the air and the ground as the purple and gold netted 456 yards passing, while gaining 195 yards on the ground.
Both the Poets and Loggers combined to total 1,107 total yards of offense, while totaling 114 points on the scoreboard.
Whittier was led by junior running back and 2010 1st Team All-SCIAC performer Kimble Tillman who collected 216 total yards of offense to go with four touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving), rushing for 60 yards, while bringing in nine receptions for 156 yards. He was also on special teams as he also collected 50 yards for the game on kickoff returns.
Junior quarterback Chris Lopez threw for 456 yards, rushed for 95 yards and combined for five total touchdowns including four passing and one rushing. He targeted three different receivers on three of his four touchdowns including Oreese Hoyes who collected 122 yards receiving on nine receptions, Oklahoma State University transfer Dameron Fooks who hauled in one reception for seven yards, and Tillman who had a receiving touchdown of 84 yards.
Freshman Makale Ruiz-McCobb also had an excellent game as he caught 3 balls for 103 yards and two scores with his long being of 54 yards.
Not to be overlooked was the great play on the defensive side of the ball. Even though they allowed 48 the Poets maintained their aggressive play throughout the entire game. Defensive back and senior Anthony Bennett had one of his best games of his collegiate career as he obtained his first multi interception game, while also receiving his first interception touchdown with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Senior Travis Driskell led the Poet defense as he collected thirteen tackles with seven being solo, while assisting on six. Karsten Tindal also had an outstanding game as well as he collected a sack for a six yard loss, while making two solo tackles and assisting on another. Tyrod Anderson also collected a sack for a three yard loss and had two solo tackles.
After Bennett's interception the momentum shifted towards Whittier as they went up 28-20 after the Loggers had come within one at 21-20. Immediately following the pick Lopez led the purple and gold down the field in 8 plays for 55 yards in 2:05 to put Whittier up 35-20.
Puget Sound then answered back as George Kai'ai led his squad down the field in nine plays for 78 yards as he threw one of his four touchdowns on the day to Ryan Rodgers to help get the Loggers within eight.
The Poets then answered right back as Lopez connected with Fooks in the corner of the end zone to cap a 12 play, 73 yard drive that ate up 3:58 helping Whittier take a 42-27 lead into the half.
Coming out of halftime, the Loggers immediately got on the scoreboard to again get within eight at 42-34, but the Poets then answered yet again as Lopez found Tillman up the seam that wound up being an 84 yard passing touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
The Loggers then felt they could air it out as well and they did as Ka'ai connected with Adam Kniffin for a 50 yard pass that brought the Loggers within eight at 49-41.
In the final quarter, the Poets ran the ball into the ground eating up time of possession not allowing the Loggers offense back onto the field. In the final frame Tillman rushed for his final two touchdowns from 22 and 3 yards out securing the victory for the purple and gold.
On special teams, Alex Jungsten kicked off 11 times and averaged 59 yards, Keaton Herrera had two punts for 76 yards averaging 38 yards, and Douglas Soriano went 1/1 on field goals with his one coming from 25 yards out. He also knocked in nine extra points.
Alex Mitchell continued to play well on special teams as he had three returns for 76 yards.
After the game an energetic Coach Jellerson explained that "this was a solid win for the program this afternoon. It was nice to see the defensive and offensive players coming together for the win. Everything worked like clockwork and even though we had a couple miscues on defense, the players maintained their composure and played great football for the entire 60 minutes."
The purple and gold look to continue to play aggressive football on both sides of the ball as they take on the Tigers of Occidental College in the Battle of Shoes Saturday, October 1 beginning at 7:00pm.