Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – On a night when the Poets were poised to reclaim the "shoes" and after a convincing win over the University of Puget Sound 66-48 last week, Whittier was determined to make a statement.
But that statement fell short as the Poets fell 31-17 to the hands of the Tigers dropping their record to 1-2, 0-1 SCIAC.
As the legend has it, a handful of Occidental College football players stole Poets star running back Myron Claxton's cleats on the Thursday before the 1939 game. Claxton got his payback though by leading Whittier to a 36-0 victory that day and reclaiming his shoes. Seven years later, the Orthogonian Society had Claxton's cleats bronzed and the two teams have played for the bragging rights ever since.
Tonight was the 103rd time these two teams have met and Occidental now leads in coveting the trophy 35-33.
Occidental has won nine of the last ten match-ups including last season where the Poets fell 25-22 and the Poets wanted revenge.
Chris Lopez who won SCIAC Athlete of the Week honors this past week due to his accomplishments against Puget Sound was poised to lead the Poets to another stunning victory against Occidental. He finished the game 27-47 for 265 yards and led the team in rushing with 38 yards.
Oreese Hoyes led the offensive attack through the air as he caught seven balls for 73 yards.
Kimble Tillman who totaled four touchdowns last week paced the Poets this evening as he carried the ball four times for 20 yards and a score but did his damage on kickoff returns as he returned three kickoffs for 136 yards and one touchdown.
With just over four minutes to play in the second quarter with the Poets down 17-3, Tillman received a handoff and bounced it outside to put the Poets within striking distance at 17-10. But that is as close as they would get before the second quarter came to a close.
Coming out of the half, Occidental managed to put two long drives together to go up 31-10 and with a minute remaining in the third quarter, Tillman again came up big for the Poets grabbing the ensuing kickoff and going 90 yards for his first return touchdown of the season.
On the following kickoff, Whittier gained possession as Occidental failed to recover the kickoff allowing the Poets to start a drive deep in Oxy territory. Whittier looked to cut back into the lead and began showing signs of life but on the next play, Lopez would throw his lone interception of the game as his pass went through the hands of an outstretched receiver and intercepted by Norfleet.
Charles Scicli led the Poets on the defensive side of the ball as he recorded seven solo tackles, while assisting on five. Taylor Holland was also all over the ball carriers as he totaled eleven tackles with 1.5 of them being for a combined eight yard loss.
Travis Driskell was also in on eight tackles with 1.5 of them being for a five yard loss.
Coach Jellerson explained that "dropped passes and not protecting the ball were major contributors to the loss tonight and little miscues like that can lose a football game."
At halftime, the Poets honored the 1961 football team who has the only undefeated season in Whittier College history. They went 9-0 and 4-0 in conference play and won the schools 15th conference title. For the season they allowed a total of 58 points, which is a school record.
The Poets look to get back to .500 as they travel next Saturday, October 8 to Cal Lutheran to take on the Kingsmen with kickoff slated for 1:00pm.