Claremont, Calif. - Freshman quarterback Alex Bresler threw for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown in the first half, and the Pomona-Pitzer Football team held its lead in the second half to capture a 31-23 win over La Verne on Saturday evening.
With the win, Pomona-Pitzer improves to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the SCIAC, while winning its second straight game, after defeating Whittier 17-10 in overtime last weekend. La Verne falls to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the SCIAC with the loss.
Senior defensive back Weston Staubus had two interceptions and broke up the final play of the game for La Verne in the end zone to seal the win.
Bresler opened the scoring when he found senior wide receiver Ryan Randle for a short pass over the middle in the first quarter. Randle was wrapped up on the catch, but broke the tackle and scampered the rest of the way for a 39-yard touchdown to make the score 6-0 with 10:46 left in the first quarter.
The score remaining the same until the second quarter, when the Sagehens opened up their bag of tricks on fourth down from the La Verne 22. Bresler threw a swing pass to sophomore running back Brett Harper which traveled a yard backwards. Harper faked as if he was going to run, stopped and threw the ball back across the field to Bresler, who tightroped the sideline and ran in for a 22-yard touchdown.
As if that wasn't enough, the Sagehens then faked the extra point with Harper running an option with senior kicker Michael Weil, with Weil taking the pitch and just getting over the line before hitting the ground on a tackle to make the score 14-0.
La Verne struck back on a 30-yard pass from Justin Gomez to John Lilly, but Bresler finished off his run-pass-catch touchdown trifecta by feeling pressure in the backfield and taking off up the middle for a 53-yard touchdown with 4:09 left in the third quarter to make the score 21-7.
The Leopards came right back as Dallas Parent returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to the Pomona-Pitzer 12, and two plays later, Travis Sparks-Jackson scored on a nine-yard run to make it 21-14. La Verne added an Alex Miller field goal on the final play of the half to make the score 21-17 at the break, and another Miller field goal from 30 yards accounted for all of the scoring in the third quarter.
However, Pomona-Pitzer took advantage of a Staubus interception and run back to the La Verne 20 late in the third. Bresler found sophomore tight end Sean Mulcahy for a juggling catch on the final play of the third quarter to give the Sagehens first and goal at the La Verne four-yard line, and after the teams changed ends, Harper ran the ball in, keeping his feet after being tripped up in the backfield momentarily to make the score 28-20.
Weil then hit a key 25-yard field goal from the left hash to make it a two possession game with 9:10 remaining at 31-20. Miller answered with his third field goal of the game from 35 yards with 6:28 to go, and the Leopards earned one final chance after a stop, taking over on their own 46. The Sagehen defense appeared to be on the verge of holding on a pass break-up by Nelson Cole in the back of the end zone, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Leopards first-and-goal at the 10.
After gaining five yards on a rush, sophomore defensive tackle Grant Frazier, who began the year as a fullback, broke through the line to earn a quarterback sack and set up a fourth-and-10. Gomez looked for Lilly along the left edge of the end zone, but Staubus was able to get a hand in and knock the ball free to seal the win.
Harper finiahed with 85 yards on 18 carries for the Sagehens, while also throwing a touchdown pass. Sophomore Jack Pietrykowski led the receiving corps with seven catches for 81 yards, as leading receiver Duncan Hussey missed the game with an injury suffered last weekend at Whittier. Randle was also lost for the game with a second-quarter leg injury after tallying four catches for 60 yards, leaving Bresler without his two top targets.
Junior linebacker Matt O'Connor had 12 tackles to lead the defense, while senior linebackers Kyle Roskamp and Nick Sbardellati each had nine. Gomez finished with 233 yards passing for La Verne, but threw three interceptions, two to Staubus and one to junior Don Swan.
Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action at home next weekend for its home finale against Occidental in the annual Battle for the Drum, one of the oldest college rivalries in football, dating back to the 1890s.