/seasons/2011/contrib/20120311v0p3qm

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."

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
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at Framingham State 29, Westfield State 14
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Moravian 20, at Juniata 17
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at Salve Regina 41, Endicott 14
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at Thomas More 63, St. Vincent 13
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at Union 28, Hobart 23
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at Hamilton 27, Colby 24
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at Allegheny 44, Kenyon 35
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SUNY-Maritime 21, at Mount Ida 13
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Middlebury 43, at Bates 14
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at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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at Amherst 21, Wesleyan 17
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at Trinity (Conn.) 63, Bowdoin 14
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Husson 48, at Gallaudet 21
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Wabash 35, at Oberlin 21
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at Utica 34, Buffalo State 12
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Ohio Northern 7, at Muskingum 6
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at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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at Stevenson 26, Albright 23
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Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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Plymouth State 40, at Massachusetts Maritime 14
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Wooster 58, at Hiram 25
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Washington and Lee 36, at Hampden-Sydney 6
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Bridgewater 31, at Emory and Henry 23
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RPI 30, at Alfred 15
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Ferrum 27, at Brevard 24
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Randolph-Macon 63, at Apprentice 14
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Cortland 34, at Morrisville State 20
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Trinity (Texas) 27, at Sewanee 21
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Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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Tufts 21, at Williams 13
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Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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MIT 30, at Coast Guard 21
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Franklin 29, at Rose-Hulman 22
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John Carroll 48, at Capital 21
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at Manchester 28, Bluffton 21
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Mount St. Joseph 71, at Anderson 27
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UW-Whitewater 20, at UW-River Falls 7
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Kean 26, at TCNJ 3
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at Worcester State 45, Mass-Dartmouth 40
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Muhlenberg 40, at McDaniel 13
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Western New England 45, at Becker 0
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at Maryville (Tenn.) 35, Methodist 14
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Adrian 36, at Kalamazoo 22
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Denison 31, at Ohio Wesleyan 20
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Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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at Benedictine 43, Olivet 37
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Birmingham-Southern 31, at Austin 24
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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Eureka 37, at MacMurray 20
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Nebraska Wesleyan 14, at Buena Vista 13
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Lakeland 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 0
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at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Westminster (Mo.) 24, at Greenville 14
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at Loras 44, Coe 38
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Monmouth 61, at Cornell 10
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Wheaton (Ill.) 56, at North Park 0
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Northwestern (Minn.) 30, at Martin Luther 14
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Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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at Millikin 56, Carroll 35
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at St. Norbert 38, Lawrence 6
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St. Scholastica 49, at Crown 21
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at Iowa Wesleyan 24, Minnesota-Morris 17
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UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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at WPI 41, Merchant Marine 7
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at Centre 42, Rhodes 35
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Hanover 49, at Earlham 14
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at Chicago 55, Beloit 12
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UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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Western Connecticut 27, at Bridgewater State 20
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Chapman 38, at La Verne 21
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Pacific 17, at Lewis and Clark 7
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Pacific Lutheran 27, at Willamette 14
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at Whitworth 38, Puget Sound 23
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Redlands 42, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 25
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at Castleton 17, Dean 14
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Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
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Carnegie Mellon 42, at Thiel 10
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at Illinois College 23, Knox 13
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at Cal Lutheran 60, Whittier 34
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Cancelled
Occidental at Pomona-Pitzer
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
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at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
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