Football Falls At Rhodes In Season Opener

Football Falls At Rhodes In Season Opener

Memphis, Tenn. - The Pomona-Pitzer Football team battled Rhodes evenly in the yardage department, but turnovers and two touchdowns late in the first half proved to be the difference as the Lynx earned a 28-7 win in the season opener for the Sagehens on Saturday evening.

Rhodes, a veteran team that starts almost all juniors and seniors (except two sophomores), improves to 2-0 on the year with the win and 10-2 in the last two years, while the Sagehens open out the season 0-1.  

Pomona-Pitzer outgained Rhodes 274-239 on the day and had 22 first downs, compared to 13 for the Lynx. The Sagehens pass defense also held Rhodes to only 5-22 through the air, but had four turnovers to none for the Lynx.

Two of the turnovers helped swing the momentum early in the game, as the Sagehens had a 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line on their first possession, but lost the ball on a fumble at the 11:38 mark of the first quarter. Then, later in the first stanza, Pomona-Pitzer turned the ball over on their own 27, and Rhodes converted on the next play on a touchdown pass from Austin Henyon to Mason Windatt.

Sophomore quarterback Luke Lowell (pictured), who was making his first collegiate start, responded on the next drive by leading the Sagehens all the way down the field to tie the score. He hit senior wide receiver Brett Harper on consecutive passes of 15 and 17 yards to move the ball into Lynx territory. After he was sacked to create a 2nd-and-18 on the Rhodes 29, Lowell found sophomore running back Aseal Birir on a screen pass and Birir ran all the way in to knot the score up 7-7.   

Rhodes took the lead back with 5:19 left in the half after a 14-play, 84-yard drive. Henyon found Brandon Box on a 42-yard pass down to the one-yard line, and two plays later, Casey Joseph plunged in to make the score 14-7. A sack and a short punt then gave Rhodes possession on the Pomona-Pitzer 35-yard line, and they were able to add another touchdown with 23 seconds left in the half when Henyon scored on a keeper on 3rd-and-goal at the Pomona-Pitzer two-yard line. 

The second half saw Pomona-Pitzer drive the ball inside the Rhodes 25-yard line on its first two possessions, but both times, the Rhodes defense held there to keep the score 21-7.  The Lynx then went 61 yards in 17 plays, scoring on Henyon's second touchdown run on 4th-and-1 from the Pomona-Pitzer four-yard line with 12:02 left to effectively seal the game. 

Lowell had a solid start for the Sagehens, completing 17-of-25 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. Harper had five catches for 64 yards, and junior Alex Bresler had four catches for 60 yards. Sophomore linebacker Zach Harris led the Sagehens in tackles with nine, while junior Brian Rauzi added seven. Henyon had a rough day passing for Rhodes at 5-for-21 for 108 yards, but he did run for 37 yards and two scores. 

"The early turnovers really hurt us," said Head Coach Roger Caron. "I thought our guys really came out ready to play and maybe if you take those turnovers away, we get a chance to build an early lead and it's a different game. We can take some positives from this game, though, and get back to work in practice this week to cut down on our mistakes and be ready for Lewis & Clark."

Pomona-Pitzer hosts Lewis & Clark on Saturday in its home opener, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. (start time moved up a half hour from the original 1 p.m. kickoff).