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The Sagehen Report: Week of October 10

Ryan Randle '14 had a spectacular catch in the end zone to give Pomona-Pitzer the lead with 2:48 left in the game, but the Sagehens came up one play short in the annual “Battle For the Drum”

Ryan Randle '14 had a spectacular catch in the end zone to give Pomona-Pitzer the lead with 2:48 left in the game, but the Sagehens came up one play short in the annual “Battle For the Drum."

Running back Luke Sweeney ’13 and cross-country runner Annie Lydens ’13 continued to be the top stories for Sagehen Athletics this fall, as Sweeney rushed for a career-high 265 yards against Occidental, while Lydens blew away the conference field by winning the SCIAC Multi-Duals with a time nearly 30 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.

Although perhaps the biggest story this week a dramatic ”Battle for The Drum” with Oxy that came right down to the final play.

Despite missing several key players on offense with injuries, the Sagehens used the workmanlike performance of Sweeney (38 carries) and the acrobatic playmaking of wide receiver Ryan Randle ’14 to a late lead. Trailing 34-29 with five minutes to go, Sweeney broke a 48-yard run to bring the ball to the Occidental 12-yard line, and on the next play, Randle laid out at full extension in the end zone for a highlight-reel catch to put Pomona-Pitzer ahead 35-34 with 2:48 on the clock.

On the second play of Occidental’s ensuing drive, cornerback Joshua Rothman ’13, who already had two interceptions, read a swing pass perfectly and dove in front of Occidental running back Wesley McDaniel, nearly picking up his third interception to seal the win. Unfortunately, the ball barely got past him and into the hands of McDaniel, who turned it into a 30-yard gain, setting up the go-ahead score on another spectacular diving catch in the end zone with 1:35 to play. The Sagehens responded and moved the ball all the way to the Occidental nine-yard line with one second left, leaving them time for one final play. Quarterback Luke Ferguson ‘13 rolled right and couldn’t find a receiver open, until he was forced to throw under pressure near the sideline, and the pass was picked off in the back of the end zone, sealing a dramatic 42-35 win for the Tigers.

Sweeney’s 265 yards eclipsed his previous high of 220, set last year against Occidental, and increased his average for the season to a remarkable 203.2 yards per game, easily the highest total in the nation in any division. Randle continued his emergence with 10 catches for 101 yards and three touchdowns, while Ferguson was 20-of-35 for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Rothman led the defense with two interceptions, one of which he ran back for a touchdown before it was negated on an illegal block, and the other occurred on a spectacular individual effort when he came on a blitz, batted the ball up in the air, and intercepted it himself. The offensive line of Tim Stapenhorst PI ’12, Kevin Ludlum ’13, Jack Horstmann ’15, James Lambert ’12 and Garret Bell ’13 continued to help Sweeney and the offense roll up big numbers (440 yards), while allowing only two sacks. The Sagehens will be back in action this weekend at home for a tough test against nationally ranked Cal Lutheran (Saturday, October 22, 7 p.m., Merritt Field).

Lydens showed that she is rounding into peak form as a national championship contender in cross country, as she won the SCIAC Multi-Duals with a time of 21:46, finishing 29 seconds ahead of second-place Jennifer Tave of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (22:15). As a team, the Sagehens finished fourth despite missing their second best runner, Claire Brickson ’14, due to injury. The Men’s Cross Country team, meanwhile, finished second overall behind Occidental, led by Alex Johnson ’13, who finished fourth overall with a time of 26:39, giving the Sagehens a 6-1 record at the event.

The Men’s Water Polo team opened SCIAC play with a convincing 15-8 win over Occidental. The game was close early, as the Tigers held a 6-4 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Sagehens answered with a resounding 10-0 run to take control. Jason Cox PI ’13 continued his strong season with four goals, giving him a team-high 35 on the year, while Ryan Higgins ’13 added a season-high three. The Sagehens have a big Saturday ahead as they host SCIAC rival Whittier (11 a.m.) and Pac 10 powerhouse UCLA (3 p.m.) for two home matches at Haldeman Pool on Saturday.

The Women’s Soccer team took a big step towards a SCIAC Tournament berth with a 2-0-1 week, defeating Whittier and La Verne and tying CMS. Traci Lopez PI ’12 had a goal in all three games this week, giving her a team-high 10 on the season, including the game-winners against Whittier and La Verne and the only Sagehen goal in a 1-1 tie with CMS. Claudia Zaugg ’13 also came up big with her first two goals of the season against La Verne.

Women’s Soccer, Men’s Soccer and Volleyball all have huge weeks as they try to earn their way into the SCIAC Tournament with the regular season winding down. Women’s Soccer (home, Saturday, 11 a.m.) and Men’s Soccer (away) both play Occidental on Saturday in games that could clinch SCIAC berths, while Volleyball is at CMS on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) and home for Whittier on Friday (5 p.m.) in matches that will be pivotal to its postseason hopes.

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