Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team picked up a huge win on Saturday as they held off Occidental College 28-13 on the road to hold onto the coveted "Shoes" trophy.
Whittier who was coming into the game with a 33-game losing skid dating back to 2014 saw that end in a big way as they move to 1-3, 1-1 SCIAC.
The Purple & Gold used a rushing attack and capitalized on a key Oxy turnover in the third quarter, scoring 14 points in less than five minutes to take control of the game.
The Poets played power football behind freshman Alex Retana (Whittier, Calif.) who had the game of his career putting together 98 yards on 21 attempts and four touchdowns. He opened up the scoring in the first quarter with a 1-yard run capping off an 8-play, 47 yard drive setup by a short Oxy kickoff and penalty. He then came back in the 2nd quarter and converted his second score on the day, this time from three yards out as he wrapped up a 5-play, 73 yard drive, which included a Matthew Valencia (Commerce, Calif.) to Hakim Williams Jr. (Covina, Calif.) connection that was good for 63 yards.
Those would be the lone scores in the first half for the Poets as they led 14-7 at the break. Out of the half, Oxy marched down the field in 8-plays in 3:31 on their opening possession to pull within one 14-13. But those would be the only points they would get in the second half as Whittier would come back on their opening series with a 10-play, 61-yard drive with Retana capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown run.
On the ensuing kick-off, Cooper Allen (Visalia, Calif.) would send it 60-yards to the Oxy 5, where Brennan Golden was waiting, but he would get five-yards before getting stripped by the Poets. With this turnover they would capitalize as Cameron Kimball (Fort Irwin, Calif.) would fall on it setting up Retana for his final touchdown of the game, again coming from 3-yards out.
Whittier totaled 292 yards of offense (136 Passing/156 Rushing) and converted 42% of their third downs. Valencia finished 7-for-13 for 105 yards and replaced Miguel Avina (Indo, Calif.) who suffered a knee injury and was 2-for-3 for 31 yards before coming out. On the ground behind Retana's 98 yards from scrimmage, Jovan Bea (Santee, Calif.) provided support with 50 yards on 12 carries.
For the receivers, Williams Jr. hauled in three catches for 86 yards averaging 28.7 yards a catch. Allen had a strong day on special teams converting all four extra points and had five punts totaling 192 yards averaging 38.4 yards per punt.
Nicholas Markarian (Chino Hills, Calif.) led the defensive unit totaling 8 tackles (6 solo/2 assisted) and was joined by Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV) with 7 tackles (7 solo). Cameron Smith (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) provided 6 tackles (2 solo/4 assisted) and Andrew Rosales (Pico Rivera, Calif.) tallied 5 tackles (3 solo/2 assisted).
Legend of the Shoes: During the week prior to the 1939 matchup between the teams, members of the Occidental team stole Whittier running back Myron Claxton's shoes. Without his football shoes, Claxton would lead the Poets to a 36-0 victory over the Tigers and after the game walked over to Oxy's sideline and took back his shoes. Seven years later in 1946, Claxton's shoes would be bronzed and made into a trophy for the Tigers and Poets to battle over.
Since the teams have played for the coveted "Shoes" Trophy Oxy leads the series score 38-36, and the Tigers have a 57-51-2 record vs. Whittier all-time.
The Tigers won the last meeting between the teams 55-26 in 2016.
The Poets and Tigers have a long history. Competition between the two teams started in 1907 when Whittier first fielded a team and the teams have met more than 100 times since that initial game.
Whittier returns home to Memorial Stadium this Saturday, October 13 to host the University of La Verne beginning at 5:00pm.