Author: Ryan Whalen
Football (4-4 overall, 3-3 SCIAC)
Saturday marked the 70th time the Occidental football team (4-4 overall, 3-3 SCIAC) took on the Whittier College Poets in what has become known as the “Battle for the Shoes.” The match-up proved an offensive showcase, as both teams scored over 50 points and combined for 1,083 total yards. Despite the Tigers’ offensive firepower throughout the contest, the defense gave up big plays both on the ground and through the air. The game ultimately went in Whittier’s favor, as the Poets scored twice in the final quarter of play to take home “The Shoes” with a 59-52 victory. The black and orange took to the air in the first half, with quarterback Bryan Scott (first-year) throwing two touchdown passes of six and 72 yards, respectively. Fellow newcomer Cordell Harris was on the receiving end of Scott’s 72-yard dime and also took a fourth-quarter kickoff back 99 yards to find pay dirt. Occidental then went back to the basics in the second half and decided to keep the ball on the ground. Sophomore running back Kwame Do registered another standout performance, racking up 197 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Do’s nearly 200-yard performance puts him at 1,213 yards on the campaign, good enough to surpass Gene Moore’s ’69 single-season rushing record of 1,086 yards from the 1968 season. With one regular-season game still left, he is strengthening his case for SCIAC Player of the Year, currently sitting atop the conference in both rushing yards per game (151.6) and touchdowns (12). Occidental hosts La Verne on Saturday at 1 p.m. for Senior Day.
Women’s Basketball (0-1 overall, 0-0 SCIAC)
The Occidental women’s basketball team tipped off its season Sunday at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). The Tigers struggled against a stout Gaucho defense and were plagued by offensive inconsistency and turnovers on their way to a 76-54 loss. Meanwhile, UCSB had no trouble getting the ball through the hoop, shooting 50 percent as a unit. Senior guard Michelle Lo led the Tiger offense, netting 13 points while shooting 40 percent from the field. Senior forward Brittni Walker also contributed valuable minutes for the black and orange and was the jill-of-all-trades, registering 10 points, four rebounds and one assist. The Tigers also received an unexpected boost from center Elizabeth Messick (senior), who was able to overcome an off-season injury to make the starting lineup. In 20 minutes of playing time, she scored four points and pulled down seven rebounds. Despite the efforts of Lo, Messick and Walker, the Tiger attack combined to shoot just 33 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. The Gauchos capitalized on Occidental’s sloppy play by grabbing 43 rebounds and connecting on 31 of their 61 shots from the field. The Tigers look to get past their early season jitters this weekend, traveling to Colorado to play St. Olaf (Minn.) Saturday at 3 p.m. and Colorado College Sunday at noon.
An historical look at the annual ‘Battle of the Shoes’
The Occidental football team has faced off against the Whittier College Poets since 1946 for a pair of bronzed cleats in a match-up that has become known as “The Battle of the Shoes.” Members of the Occidental football team stole the cleats, which were worn by Poets’ All-American running back Myron Claxton, before the two teams clashed midway through the 1939 season. Despite sporting a pair of work boots instead, Claxton still torched the Occidental defense, leading Whittier to a 36-0 shutout over the Tigers. At the end of the game, Claxton walked over to the Occidental sideline and re-claimed his cleats. Finally donning the proper equipment, the future New York Giants player went on to led the Poets to a SCIAC championship title. It took seven years before the Franklin Society, of which Claxton was a member, cast the fabled cleats in bronze and inspired the next chapter of the Tigers and Poets storied rivalry. Over the years, the prized “Shoes” have been passed back and forth between the two schools. With the Whittier victory Saturday, the series is now knotted at 35 wins apiece.
Kris Montoya (Men’s Basketball forward No. 24)
Senior forward Kris Montoya has established himself as the backbone of the men’s basketball uptempo style of play on both ends of the court, leading the squad in minutes per game (28.9) and points per game (17.1) last season. In order for head coach Brian Newhall’s physically-demanding system to work, the Tigers need players that can handle a rapid pace. Montoya did just that by spreading out opposing defenses and shooting just under 40 percent from the field as a threat from both close range and beyond the three-point arc. A multifaceted player, the 6-foot-6-inch Montoya was also the third-best distributor last season, recording just under two assists per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest on the defensive end. In the black and orange’s first game of the 2013 campaign against Division-I opponent UC Bakersfield on Nov. 2, Montoya accounted for 10 points, two rebounds, two blocks and two assists. With the SCIAC season exactly three weeks away, Montoya looks to hit mid-season form in the team’s next three non-conference match-ups. The Tigers host St. Thomas (Minn.) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rush Gymnasium.
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