TURNOVERS, SLOW START COST OXY FOOTBALL IN OPENER
LOS ANGELES — With Preseason All-American wide receiver Matthew Tuckness (Alamo) in sweats watching from the sideline, sophomore Samuel Stekol (Manhattan Beach) caught 10 passes for a career high 144 yards.
But the Occidental College football team couldn't overcome a slow start and two turnovers in the red zone during the fourth quarter in a 27-6 loss to Pacific University (Ore.) on opening day at Jack Kemp Stadium on Saturday.
"We were not nearly as sharp as we would have liked to be and we had some early-season jitters," Occidental football coach Bill Redell said. "But you have to hand it to Pacific. They played a great game."
The Tigers were held scoreless for the entire first half and most of the third quarter. It wasn't until quarterback Tommy Edwards (Sherman Oaks) punched in a three-yard run with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the period that the Tigers finally got on the scoreboard.
Edwards had a good game in the air, going 31-48 for 329 yards passing, but he was involved in two of Oxy's mishaps late near Pacific's goal line.
The junior led a 10-play, 50-yard drive, completing five passes to Stekol, Adam Gutierrez(Valencia), William Stanton (Hanford) and Josh Gorlick (Hastings-on Hudson, N.Y.) before a botched snap was recovered by Pacific's Craig Bailey with 4 minutes, 45 second remaining in the fourth.
On the next Oxy drive, Edwards was picked off in the end zone by Jaquari People on 2-and-2, ending Oxy's final effort with just less than 3 minutes to play.
Aside from the two blips, the transfer from Sacramento was able to spread the ball around and find receivers. Along with Stekol's big game, he completed passes to eight different receivers and five different receivers twice.
Stekol's longest catch was a 37-yarder on 3-and-15 midway through the third quarter that set up Oxy's scoring drive.
Still Oxy came up with just six points despite being inside the 10-yard line four times.
The Tigers could have used Tuckness, who led the SCIAC last year with 14 receiving touchdowns, but the problem was on the ground. The Tigers finished with -4 net yards rushing compared to Pacific's 149.
Oxy freshman Shay Mueller (El Dorado Hills), the son of all-time Oxy football great Vance Mueller, led the Tigers with 6.5 tackles along with converted running back Teran Mawhinney (Fort Collins, Colo.)
Bobby Ladiges and Deven McKinney each rushed for touchdowns in the second quarter for Pacific. Boxers quarterback P.J. Minaya found receiver Darin Kamealoha for a 46-yard touchdown to make the score 27-6 with 6:34 left in the fourth.
Minaya finished 17 for 31 for 207 yards.
Oxy plays its second and final non-conference game at Menlo College next Saturday.