Claremont, Calif. – Freshman quarterback Alex Bresler threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to sophomore running back Brett Harper, and senior defensive end Brett Lingle (pictured) forced the clinching fumble on the next possession (recovered by Brian Friel) as the Pomona-Pitzer Football team defeated Whittier 17-10 in overtime on Saturday.
With the win, the Sagehens improve to 1-4 overall on the season and 1-2 in the SCIAC, while Whittier falls to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.
Pomona-Pitzer had the ball first in the extra session, starting at the Whittier 25-yard line. After a pass interference penalty gave the Sagehens a first down, a holding penalty backed them up to the 20-yard line, where they faced a 2nd-and-15. Bresler, though, found Harper in the back of the end zone with a 20-yard touchdown pass to give his team its first lead of the game at 17-10.
The Sagehens still had to stop Whittier one last time in order to get the win, as the Poets took over on the Sagehen 25-yard line trying to answer. Two straight rushes netted seven yards, but Lingle then stripped running back Anthony Walker (209 yards) of the ball, and Friel fell on it to end the game, sealing the win.
It was fitting that the game ended with a stop, as the Pomona-Pitzer defense did not allow a point after falling behind 10-0 in the first eight minutes of the game, continually thwarting Whittier drives. Nelson Cole and Weston Staubus ended drives with interceptions to help keep the Poets stuck on 10 for the final 52 minutes and overtime.
Bresler found senior wide receiver Duncan Hussey for a 49-yard pass following Cole's first-quarter interception, setting up his own two-yard touchdown run to pull the Sagehens within 10-7 with 2:00 left in the first quarter. He led Pomona-Pitzer deep into Whittier territory on the final possession of the first half, but two Whittier sacks forced the Sagehens to kick, and senior Michael Weil came through with a big 34-yard field goal to tie the score 10-10 with 25 seconds left in the first half.
The Sagehens nearly took the lead several times in the second half, driving into Whittier territory three times. The last drive ended on an interception in the end zone after Pomona-Pitzer reached the 12-yard line. The Poets then drove into Sagehen territory, but senior linebacker Nick Sbardellati had back-to-back clutch tackles to force the Poets to stall at the 42, where they decided to punt with 4:47 to play.
Neither team threatened in the final five minutes, not wanting to make a mistake that would give the other team the chance to win. Pomona-Pitzer did recover two of its own fumbles on its final possession of regulation, the second of which came as time expired.
Harper finished the day with 24 carries for 86 yards on the ground, and three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown, while Bresler was 12-33 for 168 yards and a touchdown and also carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards. Hussey finished with six catches for 92 yards.
Defensively, Sbardellati finished with 11 tackles, and fellow senior linebacker Kyle Roskamp added nine, as the Sagehens held Whittier's two quarterbacks to a combined 10-28 passing for 113 yards. Anthony Walker had 209 yards rushing for the Poets in a losing cause.
Pomona-Pitzer returns home on Saturday to face La Verne for a 7 p.m. contest at Merritt Field.