Strong defensive effort leads Tigers to Homecoming victory

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“What do we want? A touchdown, right? Come on, what do we want?”

This is how Chris Norby ’72 and Alex Wallace ’72 led students and parents in the stands in 1969 and again last weekend, during Occidental football’s 21-14 homecoming victory of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on Saturday.

“We’re the heads of the Oxy Alumni Cheerleader Association,” Norby said. “We started a Yell Squad in 1969 and we’ve done it ever since… I was the straight guy, [Wallace] was the hippy cheerleader.”

Three thousand two hundred fifteen fans showed up to the game, over twice the size of their second largest against Whittier, according to Occidental Athletics.

“It was great to have a big crowd, it was fun to play in front of a big crowd, and we’re glad that we could bring the victory home for the Homecoming crowd,” head coach Doug Semones said.

Running back Kwame Do (junior) led the Tiger offensive attack with 21 carries for 169 yards.

“It was a little bit closer than we wanted it, but it’s always nice with a big crowd,” Do said.

The offense didn’t have much time on the field in the first half, possessing the ball for only 9:21 and running only 23 plays. Despite their limited time with the ball, the offense scored two touchdowns thrown by quarterback Bryan Scott (sophomore) to Kaleb Mitchell (junior) and Cordell Harris (sophomore), respectively. Scott went 20-31 with 284 yards and three touchdowns, despite losing wide receiver Samuel Stekol—Occidental’s third all-time leading receiver—to an early injury. Stekol returned at the end of the game for a few possessions.

“I think having Stekol down obviously hurt us; he’s our big play guy,” Semones said.

Even though they spent longer on the field, the defense shut out the Stags in the first half. Among the leading tacklers was defensive lineman Aaron Nofke (sophomore), who had eight tackles in the game, including two sacks.

“We played tough,” Semones said. “I kept wanting us to get the ball back, but we had to stop them on a couple critical fourth downs. We definitely won third down, got off the field, we had the pass rush when we needed it, so they just kept hanging in there and playing hard and I’m proud of them.”

 

The Stags fought back in the second half, scoring a touchdown at the end of the third quarter and cutting Occidental’s lead to only one score. But the Tigers answered in the fourth quarter with a 45-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Samuel Crizer (senior), who finished with a game-high 81 yards on five receptions, his first receiving touchdown of the season and the Tigers’ only score of the second half.

“We struggled a little bit in the second half, but we came up with what we needed to get the win,” Crizer said.I’m just stoked to get my first touchdown.”

However, CMS came right back with a touchdown on the next drive, again pulling within seven. At the end of the game, with 1:33 to go, the Stags had the ball with a chance to march down the field and tie the game.

But the Occidental defense did not even let them march beyond their own line of scrimmage, forcing them to turn the ball over on downs after a sack and three incomplete passes, securing the victory.

The Tigers have a tough road ahead of them in the closing weeks of the season. They play Pomona-Pitzer next week in a rivalry game at home, and then travel to California Lutheran and Redlands to finish out their season.

“If we win out, we get a piece of that league title,” Do said.