Author: Juliet Suess
Occidental received the kick to open the second half of Saturday’s football game against Redlands. And quarterback Tommy Edwards (senior) led the team down the field. After a few dropped balls, Edwards and company made their way to the one-yard line. On fourth down, Edwards started on the six. He snapped the ball.
And then the crowd went quiet. Edwards scrambled in the backfield, avoiding two defenders. Suddenly, he spotted two of his men deep on the right side. He lofted the ball. Wide receiver Samuel Stekol (junior) jumped to catch the pass, but it slid through his fingers, and Cordell Harris (first-year) dove to grab it. Suddenly, the game was tied at 21 points apiece.
But Edwards was not to return to the game after suffering a hit on the touchdown throw.
“Tommy [Edwards] went down in the third quarter, and we were right there,” head coach Doug Semones said after the game. “But when he went down, we just couldn’t get it going again.”
After Edwards exited with 225 passing yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts, Occidental could not regain the momentum to finish their game of catch-up and fell, 38-21.
Redlands scored first in the opening minutes of the game, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. But a tipped ball that deflected into the waiting arms of defensive back Shay Mueller (sophomore) changed the tide. Mueller ran the ball 92 yards for the touchdown and, after the extra point, the game was tied 7-7.
Bulldogs running back Bobby Brown (senior) punched in another touchdown in the second quarter; Redlands scored again shortly after on a 31-yard run from wideout Taylor Irwin (senior), taking a sizable 21-7 advantage.
Edwards and the Occidental offense did not back down. After a roughing-the-passer call that kept the ensuing drive alive, Edwards threw a touchdown to Devin Bullock (sophomore), who had 93 receiving yards at halftime.
Riding the excitement of the crowd, the Tiger defense ended the first half on a sack of quarterback Kevin Russell (junior). Occidental went into half-time with a seven-point deficit and the momentum of the game on its side.
To start the third quarter, Occidental began with what is likely to be Edwards’ last touchdown pass. After an MRI that revealed a broken arm, Edwards is scheduled to undergo surgery today.
Junior Tom Stivers came on in relief of the ailing quarterback, but was unable to capture any momentum, and the offense stalled.
Redlands went on to score 17 unanswered points in the second half.
“We had a strong third quarter, we ran well in the second half and that ended up being the key element,” Redlands head coach Mike Maynard said. “I’m hopeful that the Oxy quarterback is not hurt. When he went out as such a key player, it really slowed them down.”
Despite Redlands traditionally being one of the strongest competitors in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), Semones believes that his team played well.
“The kids played hard, excellent football with a lot of heart,” he said.
Maynard echoed Semones’ sentiment when discussing preparation for the game.
“Oxy is a much improved team, both physically and emotionally,” he said. “They are one of the best coached teams.”
Occidental will go on the road to Claremont on Saturday to take on the Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS). The preparation will include some defensive work on tackling and stopping the run game.
“We need to work on fitting the run and making tackles,” Mueller said. “We had two big stops at the end, but we need to fit the run better.”
The Tigers gave up 424 yards on the ground against the Bulldogs.
Edwards said that no matter who’s under center, the goals of his team have not changed.
“I know the guys have a lot of faith in Stivers and [Bryan] Scott, and this doesn’t change anything even if I have to take on more of a coaching role,” he said.
Scott played for the last minute of the game, running two plays.
“We are still going to go out and beat Claremont next week,” Edwards said.
The Tigers travel to Claremont to play CMS on Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
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