Photos by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – For the third straight year the Whittier College Football team has held onto the coveted "Shoes" Trophy following a 21-18 victory over Occidental College highlighting Homecoming Weekend.
The Purple & Gold move back over .500 at 3-2, 1-1 SCIAC, while Occidental drops to 1-3, 0-2 SCIAC. The win is the first Homecoming Victory for Whittier since 2014 when they beat La Verne 36-17.
After a scoreless first quarter the Tigers jumped out in front 3-0 early in the 2nd with an 18-play drive covering 64 yards in 9:11 that started late in the first. They earned a 1st and Goal from the WC 7 but couldn't punch it in as Whittier's defensive unit stood strong holding them to a 28-yard field goal. The Purple & Gold then came back on their next series and went 79-yards in six-plays highlighted by a 22-yard run by Aaron Martinez (Oak Harbor, WA) and Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.) hooking up with Hakim Williams Jr. (Riverside, Calif.) down the sideline for a 65-yard reception. The very next play sophomore running back Alex Retana (Whittier, Calif.) would rush it in from two-yards out putting WC on top 7-3.
Late in the 2nd quarter Occidental capitalized on a Retana fumble that set them up in WC territory. But again the Poets defensive unit stood strong holding the Tigers to another field goal that made the score 7-6 at the break.
The lone score in the 3rd quarter came late in the period again from Retana. He ended a 15-play drive that covered 74-yards in 8:14. Out of those 15-plays, Retana rushed seven times combining for 26-yards putting the Poets on top 14-6.
Occidental outscored Whittier 12-7 in the 4th quarter but it wouldn't be enough to pull off the road victory. The Tigers got a quick score from DJ Adams who rushed up the middle for 58-yards that got Oxy within two at 14-12. But the ensuing two-point conversion would get dropped keeping it a two-point game. It didn't take long for Whittier to find the endzone as Retana completed the hat trick capping off a 4-play, 70-yard drive with a 47-yard scamper that pushed the score to 21-12.
But Oxy didn't go away quietly as they would take their next possession 70-yards in 7-plays covering 2:35, which ended in Joshua Greaves keeping it himself and taking it 49-yards down the far sideline that cut the margin to three. With 6:55 to play in the game, Whittier sustained a long drive that went 12-plays and 55-yards that brought them down to the Oxy 20. They elected to go for a 4th and 2 but couldn't complete it turning the ball over on downs with :32 seconds to play. With their backs against the wall and 80-yards to cover, the Tigers attempted a comeback going 55-yards that set them up with a game-tying 40-yard field goal attempt with :05 seconds on the clock. But the ensuing kick from Kyler Parris would miss wide left that sent the Poets to the home victory.
Whittier totaled 409 yards of offense with 197 passing and 212 rushing. They averaged 4.6 yards per rush and 9.0 yards per reception. They also completed 9-of-14 third down completions (64%).
Avina finished the day 13-for-22 for 197 yards with a long being of 65. He also ran it 13 times for 45 yards. Retana led the rushing attack with 28 attempts for 148 yards averaging 5.3 yards per carry along with three touchdowns. Williams Jr. hauled in three receptions for 93 yards with a long being of 65 and Moises Gonzalez (Long Beach, Calif.) added three catches for 43-yards, averaging 14.3 yards per catch.
Defensively the Poets were tough recovering a fumble, adding a sack and totaling 10 tackles for losses. Oscar Aliaga (Las Vegas, NV) led the unit with six tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for losses. Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV) also added six tackles with a break-up and Jacob Hayes (Chino Hills, Calif.), Mark Tolmachoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.), and Meda Mazon (Riverside, Calif.) each added six tackles and combined for four tackles for losses. In the secondary, Andres Ruvalcaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) posted four tackles and three pass break-ups and Tyrus Douglas (Norwalk, Calif.) added five stops with a fumble recovery, which came when Oxy was trying to score from the WC 2-yard line.
Whittier returns to competition this Saturday, October 19 when they travel out to take on the Uni. of La Verne beginning at 5:00pm.