Early efforts bring Homecoming win
A crowd of 3,312 people watched as the Panther football team continued its SCIAC-winning streak, defeating the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens with a resolute 24-7 Homecoming victory Saturday evening at Wilson Field. With the win the Panthers are tied for first in the SCIAC and improve to 3-1(2-0).
Sophomore running back Jeremiah McKibbins was at the forefront of a volatile first-quarter offense. He said that an energetic stadium fueled the win.
“Playing at home is always great, but having that kind of crowd on Homecoming night is something special,” McKibbins said. “As difficult as it seems, it’s important to remember that there is still a job that’s needed to be done and I had to do everything in my power to make that happen.”
The Panthers jumped on the lackluster Pomona-Pitzer (0-4, 0-2) team early on in the first quarter, scoring two consecutive touchdowns on keynote passing from freshman quarterback Andrew Chavez to junior wide receiver Robin Harris at the 11:50 and 7:20 marks.
Panther head coach Bob Owens said quick scoring was the spark the team needed.
“That was a big first quarter and those two touchdowns set the down for the rest of the game,” Owens said.
Looking for an offensive rebuttal, Pomona-Pitzer moved behind the effort of senior running back Luke Sweeney, who carried the ball four times for a 21 yards on their second drive. With the Sagehens sitting on the 35-yard line, freshman defensive back Ethan Weinstein intercepted a pass to halt Pomana-Pitzer’s momentum.
McKibbins came up big in the second quarter with a pair of 12 and 15 yard runs to bring senior kicker Mauricio Alfonso close enough to the end zone to sink a 34-yard field goal, capping a 17-0 halftime cushion.
“Starting fast is one of the things our coach really emphasized in this game and the lead gave us the confidence we needed going into the second half,” McKibbins said.
Despite early efforts, Chapman’s No. 10 ranked offense struggled to execute again until the late third quarter when an interception by senior linebacker Michael Mehlhaff propelled a McKibbins touchdown from four yards out to extend the lead to 24-0 at the 5:27 mark. Mehlhaff said the interception was a quick fix for the third-quarter slump.
“At that point, we just needed to score to keep a comeback out of reach for the other team. My interception was the first step, but it was up to the offense to deliver,” Mehlhaff said.
Chapman held the visiting Sagehens scoreless until junior wide receiver Ryan Randle found the end zone on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from senior quarterback Luke Ferguson. Defensive lineman Ben Wadors and junior linebacker Wade Minshew combined for two sacks. The defense allowed 253 yards of total offense for Pomona-Pitzer – a season-low for the Sagehens.
The Panthers return to Wilson Field looking stay atop the SCIAC as they host Occidental College Saturday at 7 p.m.
“Occidental has always had an excellent football program, so we aren’t expecting this year to be any different. We just need to keep doing what we are doing and continue to utilize our weapons both defensively and offensively,” Owens said.