TIGERS NEARLY PULL OFF LATE COMEBACKBy Michael Wells Sports Information Director
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — After erasing a 14-point fourth quarter deficit, the Occidental College football team was just one play shy of tying the game with 10 seconds remaining.
But quarterback Luke Collis' (Pasadena, CA) two-point conversion attempt to Teran Mawhinney (Fort Collins, CO) fell incomplete and with it so did the Tigers (3-3, 2-2) chances of beating No. 15 University of Redlands (5-1, 3-1), as they fell 42-40 at Jack Kemp stadium on Saturday. The loss drops Oxy to fourth and gives Redlands sole possession of second place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
"I was really proud to come back and give ourselves a chance to win it or at least tie it and send it to overtime," Occidental coach Dale Widolff said. "Which I would have liked our chances in overtime because I feel like we had all of the momentum."
Collis had engineered two scoring drives of more than 65 yards in just over four minutes of offense in the fourth quarter—the last one capped by a 21 yard touchdown pass to Matthew Tuckness (Alamo, CA)—to get the Tigers back within reach despite the team's two interceptions, blocked punt, missed field goal and missed point after touchdown.
"We did that a lot. We had a lot of good drives and a lot of good completions," Collis said. "But we didn't perform when it counted."
For Oxy, it's an unfortunate conclusion to about as exciting a fourth quarter as there can be in football.
"Obviously you're always disappointed when you don't quite get it done. I thought our effort was exceptional," Occidental coach Dale Widolff said. But we had some breakdowns and you can't give up that many points and beat a good team. …I was encouraged, but disappointed."
Oxy won the offensive yardage battle 537 to 389, but the difference was Redlands was able to generate points 21 points off the Tigers mistakes. The Bulldogs turned a missed field goal and an interception into 14 points and ran a blocked punt back for a score.
"I thought we played well. There's not much else we can do," said Collis, who threw for 393 yards on 41 for 71 passing, with three touchdowns. "A few plays go our way and some things happen and it's a different game."
Redlands has now beaten Oxy in consecutive years after going without a win against the Tigers in the six years prior.
"We were pretty bitter about last year so we wanted to come back with fire," said Occidental defensive back Nate Proulx (Bothell, WA), who had two of his five solo tackles to help stop Redlands in the fourth quarter and give the Tigers one more chance. "We had confidence in our offense and we knew if we stopped them they were going to put it in. …Coming back was awesome, there were just a few missed opportunities. …This one hurts."
Tuckness had 15 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his total to nine scores on the season.
"This was the most fun I've had in a game so far at Occidental, granted it was a loss so it's tough," Tuckness said. "But it was promising for the future. We came in, we battled and we proved that we're a good team."
Wes McDaniel (Richmond, VA) had 22 carries for 126 yards before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Although losing to the Bulldogs means the Tigers SCIAC championship hopes come to an end, Oxy will still have a chance to respond next weekend in its homecoming game against Chapman at 1 p.m. at Jack Kemp Stadium.
"It's easy to prepare and easy to play when you have this carrot at the end. Well that carrot's not really there anymore," Widolff said. "So now it becomes more about us and our character and are we going to be men about it or are we going to be kids. I like to think we have a bunch of men and we're going to respond in a positive way these next three weeks."