The Occidental football team (5-4 overall, 4-3 SCIAC) wrapped up their season this Saturday with a 41-14 loss to Redlands at Jack Kemp Stadium. Despite the score, running back Kwame Do (senior) made history. In his last appearance in the Tiger orange and black, Do needed just 42 yards to pass Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Ryan Gocong’s previous SCIAC rushing record of 4,044 yards. He ended up rushing for 130.
The troubles started late in the first quarter for Occidental when their offense stalled on the Redlands 45-yard line and the team was forced to punt. Carlton O’Neal’s (first-year) punt was then received by the Bulldog return specialist Colin Spencer, and taken 75 yards for the first score of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Occidental returner Cordell Harris (junior) fumbled and Redlands recovered deep in Tiger territory. The Occidental defense was able to force a fourth down, but an untimely substitution penalty on the Tigers gave Redlands a first down. The Bulldogs capitalized on the mistake and punched in their second score of the afternoon two plays later.
“The consecutive punt return for a touchdown and the fumble on the kickoff return really changed the early momentum,” Head Coach Doug Semones said. “We were never able to put positive offensive and defensive drives together to regain some of that momentum.”
Facing a 14-0 deficit, the Tigers quickly bounced back to start the second quarter, with Do breaking free for a 29-yard touchdown run to put Occidental on the board. Do broke the record on the run.
Do, an All-SCIAC selection, finished the afternoon with 130 yards, pushing his career total to 4,133 yards. Furthermore, Do’s 1,571 rushing yards this season broke his own Occidental single season rushing record. In 725 career rushes, he only fumbled once. Do’s accomplishments were achieved through continued excellence, as he did not miss a game during his four-year career and had a rushing average of 114.8 yards per game over the past four seasons.
“It was a great feeling being able to beat the record, but it would not have been possible without my offensive line; Alec Garofalo (junior), Jim Partee (senior), Niko Lachman (junior), Nick Lunn (sophomore), Mike Consunji (junior) and fullback Brett Kassel (junior),” Do said.
While the touchdown cut into the Bulldogs’ lead and showed signs of the Occidental offense coming to life, Redlands quickly answered. In just five plays and under two minutes, the Bulldogs marched 54 yards to push the Tiger deficit back to 14 points. Following the touchdown, a defensive stalemate between the Tigers and Redlands brought the half to an end.
At the start of the third quarter, the Occidental defense continued to pressure the Bulldogs, as the Tigers forced and recovered a fumble to end the first Redlands possession of the second half. However, the Bulldogs returned the favor by strip-sacking Occidental quarterback Bryan Scott (junior) deep in their own territory and then going 62 yards in two plays to push the Tiger deficit to 21-7.
“We did not make the plays we had to make,” defensive back Nick Mungia (senior) said. “Their quarterback was one of the shiftier runners we had seen all season, and we did a poor job wrapping him up and taking him to the ground.”
Following the Redlands touchdown, the Occidental offense put together a long 86-yard drive. The series was capped by Scott throwing a 31-yard strike to Isaiah Amaechi (sophomore), who was able to find the end zone for the Tigers’ second score of the afternoon. Unfortunately, that drive marked the last time the Tigers would find success offensively, as the Bulldog defense blanked Occidental in the fourth quarter. Scoring one more time in the third and once in the fourth, Redlands handed the Tigers a 41-14 loss to end the season.
Despite the loss, the Occidental football team still put together a strong season, ending with a positive record and a third place finish in the SCIAC standings.
“With our careers coming to an end, one theme that was touched upon by almost every senior was the brotherhood that exists within the team,” Mungia said. “That camaraderie that Coach Semones has pushed for has elevated our team to the next level and has set the program up to take the next step, but more so, it has created bonds that will last a lifetime.”