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October 13, 2011

Football Faces Oxy In Annual "Battle Of The Drum"

Occidental Game Notes (PDF format)

Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Football team hosts one of its big rivalry games against Occidental on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the annual "Battle of the Drum" at Merritt Field.

The Occidental rivalry is one of the oldest in college football, dating back to 1895, as this year's meeting will be the 113th between the schools. A year ago, the teams met at Occidental, and the Tigers were able to hold off Pomona-Pitzer for a 39-26 win, despite the fact that the Sagehens outgained Occidental 536-285 on the day. The Tigers have won the last seven meetings since Pomona-Pitzer won 28-14 in 2003 and now lead the all-time series 61-48-3.

Current junior running back Luke Sweeney (Broken Arrow, Okla.) had the finest performance of his career in last year's game against the Tigers, rushing for a career-high 220 yards. In a bit of an interesting twist, he set his career high against his father's alma mater, as Phil Sweeney earned national championships in both cross country and track while competing for Occidental.

Big rushing performances have been commonplace for Sweeney this season, as he currently leads the country in rushing in all divisions, averaging 182.7 yards per game heading into this weekend. He holds a lead of 17.9 yards per game at the NCAA Division III level (over Joe Rollins of McDaniel) and an 11.7 yards per game lead over any other running back in college football (Richard Haley of Division II Minnesota-Crookston).

It hasn't been all Sweeney, though, as sophomore wide receiver Ryan Randle (Compton, Calif.) has caught 20 passes for 235 yards in the last two weeks alone, and now ranks 19th in the country in receptions per game (7.3). Junior quarterback Luke Ferguson (Silverton, Ore.) has also move up to 29th in completions per game (20.0) after setting new career highs with 34 completions, 57 attempts and 313 yards passing in last weekend's loss at Redlands, which Sweeney missed with minor injuries.

The offensive line of senior left tackle Tim Stapenhorst (Fremont, Calif.), junior left guard Kevin Ludlum (Mission Viejo, Calif.), freshman center Jack Horstmann (Fresno, Calif.), senior right guard James Lambert (Mercer Island, Wash.) and sophomore right tackle Garret Bell (Fullerton, Calif.) have keyed the offensive performances this season by blocking for Sweeney and allowing Ferguson to be sacked only six times through the first four games.

Sophomore tight end Peter Ferrin (Salt Lake City, Utah) has also contributed to the run blocking, while catching four touchdown passes in the last three games, including two against Lewis & Clark on Sept. 17. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Kyle Roskamp (Chesterfield, Mo.) has tallied a team high 30 tackles (23 solo, 14 assisted), including 5.5 for losses.

After facing Occidental, the Sagehens will be back in action for another home game against nationally ranked Cal Lutheran on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.