March 11, 2012

MCDANIEL, TIGERS RUN TO KEEP SHOES TROPHY

More news about: Occidental
By Michael Wells
Sports Information Director
 

WHITTIER, Calif. — After practice on Thursday, the Occidental College football team celebrated the "Battle of the Shoes" tradition with a few rituals so exclusive to those in the know, that when asked what they were, quarterback Luke Collis said, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."

On Saturday, there was less superstition and more football, with the Tigers beating Whittier College 31-17 in the 68th "Battle of the Shoes" and earning a victory in their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game of the season. The Tigers now lead the coveted trophy game series 35-33.

As the legend has it, a handful of Occidental College football players stole Poets star running back Myron Claxton's cleats on the Thursday before the 1939 game. Claxton got his payback though by leading Whittier to a 36-0 victory that day and reclaiming his shoes. Seven years later, some Whittier students had Claxton's cleats bronzed and the two teams have played for bragging rights ever since.

Fast forward to 2011, where the game once again featured an impressive running back, but this time he was wearing Oxy black.

Wes McDaniel did his best imitation of Claxton, rushing for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, making up almost half of the Tigers overall offense.

"It's a deep rooted tradition here. All week long there's a whole process where we establish with the young guys what the tradition is," McDaniel said. "We've had the shoes now for so long that no one wants to be the team that loses them."

McDaniel having such a successful game on the ground is particularly ironic this year. With both teams notoriously passing offenses and Whittier quarterback Chris Lopez fresh off of a 456-yard passing performance in a win over Puget Sound last weekend, the expectation was that the final result could more closely resemble a basketball score.

 But McDaniel and the ground game stole the show.

"It doesn't matter how good your running back is if guys up front aren't providing the holes for you to run through," McDaniel said. It starts with them and they played a great game. If they continue to do that, we're going to have success."

Oxy (2-1, 1-0) has gotten the better of the Poets (1-2, 0-1) in the annual matchup, winning nine of the last ten, but this was a better Whittier team going up against a battered Oxy squad.

"I'm very proud of the way our guys adapted in the week leading up to this game, with some guys playing out of position, and during the game when they faced adversity," Occidental coach Dale Widolff said. "We beat a good Whittier team tonight in a fun atmosphere to play in."

The Tigers had kept Whittier at a distance for most of the game, but appeared to be in trouble late in the third quarter. Kimble Tillman returned an Oxy kickoff for a 90-yard score, then the Tigers failed to recover the Whittier kick on the ensuing play, giving the Poets possession on the Oxy 30. But Occidental's Carter Norfleet made a spectacular interception on the next play in perhaps the biggest momentum swing of the game.

"The way Carter went up and over the wide receiver was the type of play you might see an NFL defensive back make," Widolff said. "And the time when it happened, with us vulnerable after the score and fumble, made it a major turning point for us."

History aside, the game was a must-win for the Tigers to open the SCIAC season on a positive note and to rebound from a tough 41-17 home loss to Menlo College on Sept. 17.

"It always feels good to beat a rival all four years," Oxy linebacker Greg Holsworth said. "It feels extra special though because we have a goal to win a conference championship and that stays alive."

Matt Matulaitus led the Tigers with 10 tackles and Ayrton BatesAdam DiBenedetto, Holsworth andDallas Gosselin all recorded six.

Oxy allowed 17 Whittier points, but if you take out a two-minue drill before halftime and the long kick off return for a touchdown, the Tigers held a high-octane Poets offense to just three.

"Honestly I thought it was a great team effort. Some guys had to step up and they executed and did everything anybody could ask of them," Holsworth said. "It was just all around great team defense and that's why we came out with a win."

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos