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Claremont, Calif. – The Pomona-Pitzer Football team could not overcome a slow start as it fell behind 21-0 early and dropped a 24-14 decision to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday afternoon in its regular season finale.
The loss finishes the Sagehens season at 0-9 overall and 0-6 in the SCIAC, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps closes out with a 4-5 overall record and a 3-3 mark in conference play.
Junior running back Luke Sweeney (Broken Arrow, Okla.) ran for 142 yards on 40 carries as he finished off his record-breaking season for the Sagehens. Sweeney ended the year with 1,419 rushing yards, shattering the previous school record of 1,260 yards held by Jonathan Sample. He will also likely finish the year as the leading rusher in all of Division III football with 177.4 yards per game, as he entered the game with a 20.5 yards per game lead over the second-place rusher, Chris D'Andrea of Montclair State, who ran for 126 on Saturday.
The Pomona-Pitzer defense (pictured swarming the ball) had its most inspired outing of the season, as it held CMS to three-and-out on the first five possessions of the second half, before finally surrendering a field goal with 4:14 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Stags, though, used big plays to score on three of their first four possessions, as they jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead. Quarterback Peter Kimmey ran for 34 yards on a keeper, and then pitched to Corey Bickler on an option play for a 56-yard touchdown with 3:33 left in the first. Alex Wheatley added a 14-yard run midway through the second quarter to stretch the lead to 21-0.
At that point in the game, CMS had 219 yards of total offense and led 21-0, but managed just 46 yards the rest of the way, as the Sagehen defense stuffed them time and time again. The Stags defense was just as tough, though, as Pomona-Pitzer was unable to break into the scoring column until the final minute, after going scoreless on its first seven possessions in CMS territory.
Sweeney set up the first score for the Sagehens by completing a 20-yard pass to Zack Kraushar (Tenafly, N.J.) on a halfback option for his first pass completion of his career. He then scored on a four-yard run for his tenth rushing touchdown of the season, tying him for the fourth highest total in program history.
Pomona-Pitzer then recovered an onside kick and junior quarterback Luke Ferguson (Silverton, Ore.) threw a 15-yard touchdown to senior receiver Kareem Smedley (Ann Arbor, Mich.), who scored on the final play of his collegiate career.
Junior linebacker Jake Rollins (Simi Valley, Calif.) led the defense with 10 tackles, while senior safety Andre Shepley (Springfield, Mass.) added seven. Shepley finished the year with a team-high 76 tackles, while Rollins, who led the Sagehens in tackles his first two seasons, finished right behind with 74.
Pomona-Pitzer loses only five seniors off this year's team, including starting offensive linemen James Lambert (Mercer Island, Wash.) and Tim Stapenhorst (Fremont, Calif.) and fullback Zack Tannous (Millbrae, Calif.), in addition to Shepley and Smedley. Sweeney will enter next season with 2319 yards, leaving him 458 from the school record for a career of 2767, held by Jim Regan.