(Original piece from Whittier College Athletics, Sep. 2017)
By Dan Gudino
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team hosted an instant classical Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opener, losing to the Claremont-M-S Stags, 41-34, on Saturday.
It was a tight game that came down to the last two minutes, where all game long the defense was called upon and was not able to respond, until it forced a late turnover on downs, as a diving Stags quarterback was stopped short of a first down.
It gave the Poet offense a chance to tie the game with under a minute left. Sophomore quarterback Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.)looked like he was ready to mount the comeback as he raced for five yards before hitting freshman wide out Moises Gonzalez(Long Beach, Calif.) for 19 yards. But on the ensuing 1st down play, the Purple & Gold elected to go deep as Avina looked down the sideline for Bryson Sanders (Manteca, Calif.), who he connected with earlier in the quarter on a 23-yard strike in stride to the corner of the endzone. But the big pass play would be picked off by Cade Moffatt at the Stag 11 allowing CMS to hold on for the victory.
The Poet one-two combo of Avina and Sanders combined eight times for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Avina accounted for all four Poet TDs, three on the ground and one to Sanders in the air. His last was a 10-yard dash, where he first searched for an open receiver, then the lefty scrambled to his weak side, put his head down for a last yard and barely crossed the goal-line.
Sanders is proving to be a reliable target down field. The senior wideout currently leads all Poet receivers with 17 receptions, 236 yards and two TDs.
The Poets offense totaled 438 yards (267 Passing/171 Rushing), its highest production in five games, since last year vs. Occidental College (538 yards total offense).
The Stags run game was effective and recorded 227 total yards on the Poet defense. Like Avina, the Stags had their own runner with three TDs, in running back Spencer Sheff.
Whittier played catch-up all game long and was within striking distance thanks to senior kicker Eric Voss (Temecula, Calif.) who knocked through a 41-yard field goal that put the Poets down 21-17 at the break. It was Voss’s third-career longest field goal and his longest of the season thus far. (Career long 45 yards)
Voss added another 40-yard field goal that capped off a decent 10 play, 73-yard Purple & Gold drive to start the fourth, 34-20 with 14 minutes to go.
Whittier managed to put up 17 points in the 4th, however a 34-17 deficit proved to be too large.
Cooper Allen (Visalia, Calif.) led the defensive unit with 11 tackles (8 solo/3 assisted), while Andrew Rosales (Pico Rivera, Calif.) totaled six solo tackles.
The Poets move to 0-3, 0-1 SCIAC and will now go on the road to face Chapman University this Saturday, October 7 (1-2, 1-0) starting at 7:00pm.
Article by: Daniel Gudino (Sports Information Office)