Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College football team used a 20 point fourth quarter comeback to earn their first victory of 2014 23-10 over the Pioneers of Lewis & Clark University.
With the win the Poets improve to 1-1, while Lewis & Clark drops to 0-3.
Despite being outdone in almost every offensive category, the Purple & Gold's defense managed to take away an interception and three fumbles that proved costly for the Pioneers late in the game.
For the second straight contest the Poets offensive unit struggled early as they put up a mere three points in the first half coming on a 38 yard field goal from Eric Voss (Temecula, Calif.).
But the defensive unit managed to keep the Pioneers out of the end zone holding them to a field goal in the first half, which came due to a blown fourth down conversion where the Pioneers ran a fake punt with quarterback Cody Rochon finding Jantz Shinmoto for a 30 yard hookup.
Lewis & Clark started off with the ball out of the half and put together a 14 play, 73 yard drive that took 6:31 capped off with a Rochon completion to Michael Hawkins from two yards out that put the Pioneers in front 10-3. But that would be the final points they would put up as Whittier would go on to put together a 20 point comeback to earn their first victory on the season.
The Poets were held scoreless through the third quarter but opened the game up in the fourth continuing a drive that started with 4:28 to play in the third. The drive went 13 plays for 86 yards covering 5:27 capped off with a one yard rushing touchdown from Erek Brown (San Dimas, Calif.) that tied the game up at 10-10.
Lewis & Clark put together another good drive during their first possession of the fourth but when they faced a 1st and 10 from the Whittier 27, Hawkins would fumble forced by Tyquion Ballard (South Central, Calif.) and picked up by Travis Rawls (Los Angeles, Calif.).
During the Poets next series, Steven Rivera (El Monte, Calif.) would connect with Cody Mucino (Henderson, NV) for a 36 yard pickup before Marcell Blow (Los Angeles, Calif.) would bring it in from 11 yards out putting Whittier in front for good.
But the Poets weren't done there as Rivera would find David Lantow (San Francisco, Calif.) for a big 15 yard hookup before Brown would take it to the house from 41 yards out, his longest of his career moving the score to 23-10.
Lewis & Clark had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard looking at 1st and Goal from the three yard line with 4:00 minutes remaining but four straight incompletions to Hawkins would give the ball back to the Poets.
The Pioneers would force another punt from Whittier and would get one final look at points with 1:02 remaining but again four straight incompletions from Rochon would allow the Poets to come away with their first victory of the season.
Rivera finished 14-22 for 208 yards, while M. Blow rushed for 84 yards on 10 attempts and his first touchdown of the season. Lantow picked up his biggest reception of the season of 49 yards as he finished with 64 yards on two receptions. Brown rushed for 62 yards on 11 attempts but came away with two touchdowns.
For Lewis & Clark, Rochon had a big day with 263 yards passing on 35-51 to go with 98 yards rushing and a touchdown. Hawkins was the leading receiver with 86 yards on 13 receptions and a score, while Gage Bumgardner finished with 69 yards on five attempts.
Defensively, the, Poets forced seven fumbles recovering three, while picking off one pass. Trevor Phillips (La Habra, Calif.) led the unit with a career high 14 tackles (six solo, eight assisted), while Ballard had 11 tackles (nine solo, two assisted), a sack, a breakup, and two forced fumbles.
James Bettencourt (Downey, Calif.) had a big day laying some big hits on the Pioneers finishing with 9 tackles (three solo; six assisted), a forced fumble, and a break-up.
Whittier has this coming Saturday off as they begin preparing for their SCIAC Opener on Saturday, October 4 as they host Cal Lutheran University beginning at 1:00pm.