Defense shines as Tigers trump Loggers
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2010) – On a night when sophomore quarterback Ryan Rodriguez got his first collegiate start, the defense stepped up its game, nabbing four interceptions while holding the visiting University of Puget Loggers to 42 rushing yards in a 44-14 victory on Patterson Field.
Transfer linebacker Cody Remmick picked off UPS quarterback Duncan White twice, returning the ball a total of 65 yards for the Tigers. After the Loggers lit up the scoreboard first, for a 6-0 lead, following a failed two-point conversion attempt, Oxy cut the deficit in half when Josh Mun connected for a 39-yard field goal, the first of three FG's in the game.
The next drive of the game ended with Remmick's first interception of the night. He returned the ball 44 yards, setting up a four-yard rushing touchdown by Ryan Nastor, who racked up 128 yards on the ground in the game. Mun capped off the drive, which took just 18 seconds, to put the Tigers ahead 10-6, at which point the Black and Orange never looked back.
Just before time expired in the first quarter Mun nailed his second FG of the night, a 29-yarder.
Occidental's defense forced UPS to go three and out on their next two possessions. The first ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from a poised Rodriguez to Matt Tuckness after the QB and Wes McDaniel combined for 36 yards on the ground to set up the score. Oxy then Rodriguez and Nastor teamed up for 38 yards with Tuckness picking up 14 by foot. The drive ended with an 18-yard completion to Nate Sullivan for the final scoring play of the first half.
Occidental came back to the gridiron after the intermission with a 27-6 lead and picked up right where the half ended.
Mun sent a 34-yard field goal through the upright to finish off a 53 yard drive that took 5:18 of the 11:00 that the Tigers held possession of the ball in the third quarter. It also served as the only scoring of the quarter. It looked as if UPS may have a chance to score late in the third on an interception by Kyle Rodriguez, but Oxy QB Ryan Rodriguez was not going to let that happen as he ran a great route to get to the Loggers' linebacker, bringing him down to the turf.
During the final quarter of action, UPS scored for just the second time of the night on an 11-yard TD pass from White to John Duncan. The duo paired up again for the two point conversion, giving the Loggers their 14 points.
It looked as though the Tigers were going to add to their lead early in the final period of play, but a Loggers interception on their own two-yard line spoiled that chance for the Black and Orange.
Fortunately, for Occidental, Remmick returned the favor, nabbing his second interception of the game at the Oxy seven yard line, returning the ball 21 yards. For the second time tonight Rodriguez connected with Sullivan, this time for a 72 yard TD.
The next UPS drive also ended with an interception, this time by Carter Norfleet. An opportunity to score in the red zone fell short and the ball briefly ended up back in the hands of the Loggers, but Greg Holsworth quickly put an end to that drive with his first interception of the season, which converted into a 23 yard touchdown. Mun added the point after attempt, for the Tigers' final of 44 points.
Occidental held the ball for more than 36 minutes and combined for 472 yards of offense, holding UPS to 289. Nastor came up with 166 all purpose yards while Sullivan finished with 123. For UPS, Adam Kniffin led all players with 179 total all purpose yards, 110 receiving and 69 on kick returns.
Nastor carried the ball 21 times with his longest at 39 yards and McDaniel rushed 14 times for 84 yards. Rodriguez gained 40 yards on 13 carries and finished 13-for-27 passing for 206 yards and three TDs.
Defensively, Norfleet had himself a game. To go along with his interception, he broke up six plays. Norfleet and Nate Proulx each tallied 10 tackles (four solo) and Proulx came away with a fumble recovery. Senior defensive end Alex Wertheimer was able to get 1.5 sacks for a loss of 15 yards and six quarterback hurries, despite being double and triple teamed throughout the course of the game. Wertheimer and Schuyler Ross each had seven tackles (three and one solo), respectively. Ayrton Bates and Kevin May each forced a fumble and May recovered one. Brandon Ortega also finished with 1.5 sacks, for a loss of seven yards, and hurried White three times. Freshman Matt Matulatis had just one tackle but it was for a loss of yardage.
Tonight's win gave Eric Bergstrom, the Tigers' acting head coach, the first victoryof his collegiate coaching career.
Occidental (1-1) will use back-to-back bye weeks to get healthy as they continue to improve. When the Tigers return to the gridiron they will host the Whittier College Poets in the Battle for the Shoes on Sat. Oct. 2 with kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Article by Tracy Maple, Sports Information Director