Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team put together some big plays Saturday afternoon but it wouldn't be enough to top the Stags of Claremont-M-S who spoiled the Poets Senior Day 52-16.
The Purple & Gold started the season red hot but have now dropped five of their last six moving to 3-5, 1-4 SCIAC.
Prior to the game Head Coach Mike Neale recognized his five seniors who were leaving the program. These seniors included Chad Fanning (Yuma, AZ), Noah Humphrey (Los Angeles, Calif.), Kaelin Washington (Imperial Beach, Calif.), Cameron Smith (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Michael Andrews (Corona, Calif.), and Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV).
There wasn't an answer for the rushing attack of CMS who totaled 393 yards on the ground led by 2018 Offensive Athlete of the Year Garrett Cheadle who rushed 18 times for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Purple & Gold kept it close in the early stages converting a 21-yard field goal from Noah Handel (Laguna Beach, Calif.) on their opening possession, which ended a 10-play, 69-yard drive that covered 4:21. During the series Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.) found Hakim Williams Jr. (Riverside, Calif.) twice for a 13-yard hook-up and then again for 30-yards. The very next series for the Stags they would answer with an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped off with Cheadle rushing it from four-yards out. This would give CMS a 7-3 lead after the 1st Quarter.
Claremont-M-S pulled away in the 2nd Quarter outscoring Whittier 24-7. They carried over a long drive at the end of the first period to go on top 14-3 and would then force a fumble on the ensuing kick-off, which would be recovered in the endzone that stretched the lead to 21-3. Whittier though would bounce back on their next series with Avina connecting with Moises Gonzalez (Long Beach, Calif.) across the middle for a 55-yard touchdown. But this would be as close as Whittier would get as CMS would tack on another score and a field goal right before the half to lead 31-10.
Out of the half the Stags put together another long drive ending in a Christian Curcio five-yard touchdown run making it a 28-point margin. But again Whittier would rally with another big play on their next drive with Avina finding Williams Jr. down the near sideline for a 51-yard touchdown grab. But those would be the final point points put up by Whittier as CMS would add on two more scores that would put the game out of reach.
Whittier totaled 296 yards of offense with 251 coming in the air and another 45 rushing. Avina was 13-for-28 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the rushing attack with nine attempts for 28 yards with a long being of 10-yards. Williams Jr. finished the day with four receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown and Gonzalez added four catches for 84 yards and another score.
Defensively, Hamilton, Mark Tolmachoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) and Smith each added nine tackles. Tyrus Douglas (Norwalk, Calif.) added eight tackles and Oscar Aliaga (Las Vegas, NV) and Andres Ruvalcaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) each with seven.
Whittier travels this Saturday, November 9 when they go take on the University of Redlands beginning at 7:00pm.