Time of Poss.
Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Football team scored its first two touchdowns on turnovers on special teams and went on to capture a 24-0 win over Whittier on Saturday evening at Merritt Field.
With the win, Pomona-Pitzer improves to 1-5 on the year and 1-3 in the SCIAC, while picking up its first shutout since a 37-0 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the 2012 regular season finale. Whittier falls to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the SCIAC with the loss.
The game was a defensive struggle until the opportunistic Sagehens pounced on a couple of scoring chances. With 8:56 left in the second quarter, Pomona-Pitzer punted the ball away, and Whittier made an attempt to field it at the 10-yard line. The ball squirted through, and Poet players cleared out, but freshman Will Latta pursued the ball into the end zone and fell on it. After the officials conferred, they ruled that the ball had tipped off Whittier's hands and awarded the Sagehens the touchdown.
The 7-0 lead held until the second half, when Pomona-Pitzer used another special teams break to score again, as freshman Zach Harris came through up the middle to block a punt at the Whittier 33-yard line. The ball bounced free, and senior Kyle Whelan was able to pick it up, stay on his feet, and scamper into the end zone for the touchdown to make the score 14-0 at the 8:13 mark of the third quarter.
The rest of the game was won by the Pomona-Pitzer defense making big plays in key spots, and the offense chewing up huge chunks of time with an overpowering running game. After the Sagehens took the 14-0 lead, freshman linebacker Evan Lloyd sacked scrambling quarterback Brandon Pickens, forced a fumble and recovered it. Pomona-Pitzer then ate up 5:10 and ended up with a 26-yard field goal from Kevin Masini to make the score 17-0 with 1:49 left in the third.
Lloyd then killed another drive for Whittier in the fourth quarter when he charged through the line on 4th-and-1 at the 40 and stopped running back Erek Brown for a one-yard loss with 8:21 left. Pomona-Pitzer then drove 59 yards in 11 plays, eating up 6:39 off the clock and ending up with a two-yard touchdown run from sophomore quarterback Alex Bresler.
The Sagehens secured the shutout when senior safety Don Swan broke up a pass that deflected up into the air, and sophomore linebacker Bulolo Jonga intercepted it with 28 seconds left.
Pomona-Pitzer ran the ball 57 times on the day, with freshman Aseal Birir carrying 30 times for 132 yards and Bresler running 26 times for 98 yards. Bresler would have been over 100 yards as well, but lost 20 yards when his pitchout on an option eluded Birir and he had to sprint back to fall on it. Lloyd led the defense with 12 tackles on the day (six solo) as Pomona-Pitzer held Whittier to only 176 yards of total offense and had 40:32 of possession time to Whittier's 19:28.
The Sagehens will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Occidental for the annual Battle for the Drum at 7 p.m.