WHITTIER — If you like offense, the 70th "Battle of the Shoes" rivalry game between Occidental and Whittier was right up your alley.
Kwame Do broke Oxy's single-season rushing record with another huge game on the ground, wide receiver Samuel Stekol made clutch 3rd down plays and the back-and-forth shootout came down to the final drive.
But the Poets made a successful goal line stand from their own 3-yard line to hold off Oxy late in the fourth quarter for a 59-52 win at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
With his team trailing by seven and 2:08 left in the game, Oxy quarterback Bryan Scott led a 10-play, 77-yard 2-minute drill that included a 50-yard pass to Stekol on 3rd and 17. After a pass interference call, the Tigers had 1st and Goal from the 3-yard line with 32 seconds left and no timeouts.
Scott threw to Stekol unsuccessfully on Oxy's first three downs and then was stopped short of the end zone on a quarterback keeper on fourth down.
Up until that point, it seemed like there was no stopping either team and that the last team with the ball would win. As Whittier quarterback Steven Rivera, who threw for 314 yards, four touchdowns and also had 103 rushing yards, took a knee with 11 seconds left, that assertion became a reality.
Whittier keeps the "Shoes" trophy for a second consecutive year and ties the rivalry series at 35 games apiece since the teams have played for the coveted bronzed cleats. As the legend has it, members of the Oxy football team stole Myron Claxton's cleats prior to the game in 1939, forcing the star running back to play in his work boots. Claxton still led the Poets to a victory and reclaimed his shoes from the Oxy sideline following the game. A few years later, the shoes were bronzed and the rivalry was forever stamped.
In the 2013 game, Do was the best running back on the field and he continued to prove why he's one of the best in all of Division III.
Do, who finished with 197 yards on 24 carries, broke Gene Moore's record of 1,084 yards set in 1968, with an 18-yard run in the second quarter. The sophomore running back, now at 1,213 yards, also had two touchdown runs in the third quarter, including a 55-yarder, upping his season total to 12.
In six SCIAC games, Do has 997 yards and 10 touchdowns, both SCIAC bests.
Scott was 22 of 46 for three touchdowns and one interception.
Stekol caught five passes for 138 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown in the third quarter. His longest reception was a 56-yarder that he took down to the Whittier 2-yard line, setting up Do's first score.
The game was tied or the lead changed hands 15 different times. Both teams exploded for 21 points in the third quarter, the highest scoring quarter of the game.
In the fourth, Cordell Harris returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, putting Oxy up 52-45 with 14:47 to go. Harris also had a 72-yard touchdown reception in the first half and finished the day with three catches for 91 yards.
Whittier's Diante Jackson, the SCIAC's leader in receiving yards, caught a 69-yard score from Rivera just 17 seconds after Harris' big return, tying the game at 52.
Rivera ran for a 20-yard touchdown for the game-winning score with 5:28 left.
Oxy falls to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in SCIAC play. The Poets pick up their first win of the season after starting out 0-7.
The Tigers finish the season against La Verne on Nov. 16 at 1 p.m.
Follow Occidental Athletics on Twitter @OxyAthletics
Like us on Facebook