Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team put together an exciting home opener Saturday but couldn't come away with the win as they fell 46-27 to Lewis & Clark.
The Pioneers used a 24-point effort in the 4th quarter to come away with the road victory after trailing on two different occasions. The Purple & Gold jumped out in front in the first quarter scoring on their first two possessions. They put together a 10-play, 64-yard drive capped off with a 15-yard reception from Brian Phelan (Chino Hills, Calif.) in the corner of the endzone. Then went 80 yards on their next drive again with Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.) finding Phelan this time wide open down the field for a 27-yard hook-up.
Lewis & Clark started off the second quarter finding the endzone capping off a long drive with Caden Voges rushing it in from a yard out as they would go on top 14-13. After a Poet three-and-out, the Pioneers looked to add to their lead driving deep into Whittier territory. But on 2nd and 3, Vogues dropped the snap and sophomore Hussayn Abdul-Qawi (Fontana, Calif.) was there to recover it stopping the threat.
The Poets had an opportunity to go back in front on their next possession with Cooper Allen (Visalia, Calif.) attempting a 35-yard field goal but the ensuing kick would miss left keeping it a one-point game. Right before the half L&C had a chance to add to their lead also getting a field goal attempt with Hayden Moses attempting his first kick on the season. But his connection would get blocked by Cameron Kimball (Fort Irwin, Calif.) keeping the score 14-13 at the break.
Whittier kept the offense going in the 3rd quarter outscoring Lewis & Clark 14-6 to go on top 27-20. On their opening possession of the frame they would go 74 yards in 9-plays behind a rushing attack of Alex Retana (Whittier, Calif.) and Avina capped off with Jovan Bea (Santee, Calif.) pounding it in from three yards out.
After the Poets defensive unit forced a short Pioneer series, the WC offense went back to work going 91-yards in seven plays, which included a 23-yard run from Avina capped off with a 31-yard reception from Phelan.
Lewis & Clark tied things up quickly to open the fourth with Voges finding Kevin Johnson for a 14-yard hook-up. Then on the ensuing kick-off the Poets fell unlucky with Bea fumbling the return giving it right back to the Pios on the WC22, which they would use to go back on top with Voges finding his tight end Dallas Garreaud from eight yards out.
On the very next series the Poets had an opportunity to tie things up with 10:42 to play as they would go 49-yards, which included capitalizing on two roughing the passer penalties. Avina was able to find Bea on a screen pass from 30-yards out as he would find the endzone but again the Poets would fall unlucky getting a holding penalty, which would back them up. Then after a sack, a catch by Moises Gonzalez (Long Beach, Calif.) and two incompletions WC was forced to turn the ball over on downs.
Once Lewis & Clark got the ball they extended their lead to two scores as Michael Abraham would go 76-yards on the first play from scrimmage putting the Poets in a hole. With one last ditch effort, Avina looked to lead the Purple & Gold down the field but on 2nd and 20 he would get picked off ending the Poets comeback hopes.
The Poets totaled 420 yards of offense with 156 coming on the ground and 264 coming through the air. They recorded 21 first downs but were a mere 2 of 8 on third downs.
Avina finish 13-for-23 for 264 yards and two touchdowns and added 56 rushing yards, but the offensive spark was Phelan who combined for 207 yards of offense. He had one rush for 31 yards and a score and then added six receptions for 176 yards and two scores averaging 29.3 yards per catch.
Bea also provided a threat on the ground with 15 rushes for 55 yards. Gonzalez joined Phelan with multiple catches with four and 39 yards. He also had two kick-off returns combining for 68 yards averaging 34 yards a return.
On defense, Nicholas Markarian (Chino Hills, Calif.) had a game finishing with 12 tackles (6 solo/6 assisted). Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV) and Israel Cruz (Las Vegas, NV) both had nine tackles and Oscar Aliaga (Las Vegas, NV) registered six with a forced fumble and three pass break-ups.
Whittier (0-2) has a bye this week and then returns to action, Saturday, September 29 when they host Chapman University beginning at 7:00pm.