Takeaways Key Streak-Ending Win At Whittier

Loggers celebrate their win at Whittier
Loggers celebrate their win at Whittier

WHITTIER, Calif. – The defense forced five turnovers and Braden Foley threw for three TDs while running for another as the Puget Sound football team defeated the Whittier Poets 42-33 on Saturday. The win snapped a 20-game losing for the Logger football program.

Saturday's win was the Loggers first since Oct. 30, 2010 when they beat Pacific 42-31 in Baker Stadium. The win also ended a 20-game losing streak on the road that stretches back to 2008. Their last road win came on Sep. 13, 2008 in a 37-7 win at Pomona-Pitzer. 

The key to victory for the Loggers (1-1) came in the turnover battle as the Loggers had five takeaways in the game. Jacob Wuesthoff and Connor Savage each picked off a pass in key moments for the Loggers. Savage, Joe Cerne and Hayden Keefe all fell on fumbles. Meanwhile the Loggers took care of the ball all game long – notturning it over once.

Foley was 16-of-31 in the passing game with 233 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for the Loggers' first score of the game. He hit seven different receivers in the game, three of which he found in the end zone. 

Tight End Josh Gilbert led all Logger receivers with four grabs for 63 yards and a touchdouwn. Bryson Calma also reeled in a touchdown for one of his three receptions in the game. Peter Bell helped seal the Poets (0-2) fate with a fourth quarter touchdown grab.

Whittier took the initial lead on their first drive as Anthony Walker ran in from two yards out to cap a 10-play, 71-yard drive. The Loggers responded with an 11-play drive that went 75 yards over the next 6:14. Foley scampered in on third and goal from the three and things were all tied up at 7-7 after Sawyer Petre's kick. 

The Logger defense stepped up in big ways to end the Poets' next two drives with turnovers. First, Keefe jumped on Steven Rivera's fumble in the backfield. With the score still tied, Savage picked off Rivera on the first play of the second quarter to halt the driving Poets.

This time, the Loggers used 12 plays to go 71 yards and Foley capped it with a TD strike to Gilbert from three yards out again. The TD was the first of three unanswered scores to end the half. 

Another Poet drive came to a screeching stop as Nasser Abdelrasul jarred out a fumble and Savage was there to recover it. Foley hit Gilbert for a 35-yard gain on the first play and had the Loggers again knocking on the door. Kupono Park muscled his way in from the one on the next play at the Loggers were up 21-7.

Whittier scored on their first drive of the second half when Chris Lopez hit Cody Mucino for a 13-yard TD pass. Leading 21-14, the Poets forced a Logger punt. However, Wuesthoff came away with his second interception of the young season and returned it all the way into the red zone to set up the Logger offense. 

The offense took just two plays to cash in as Foley found Calma for a 19-yard TD pass and the lead was back to 14.

A Poet field goal and another TD pass from Chris Lopez bought Whittier right back into the game and trimmed the Logger lead to 28-25 with 11:38 to go in the fourth quarter. 

The teams traded three-and-outs over the next two drives and after another three-and-out, Jeff Walton came back on to punt. He boomed a 74-yard punt down to the 15-yard line and the Loggers coverage brought down the return at the 11 to completely change the field possession game.

The defense fed off the momentum change and forced the fourth three-and-out in a row. On third and eight, Foley broke the string as he found Calma for a 33-yard pass that set the Loggers up with 1st and goal. Park charged in two plays later to makeit a two-score game again. 

The ensuing kickoff was fumbled and Cerne jumped on it to set the Loggers up on Whittier's 15 yard line. It took just two plays for Foley to hit Bell in the end zone and all but seal Whittier's fate with 3:27 remaining.

Whittier scored once late but the Loggers converted a 4th-and-2 to set up in victory formation and wind out the clock. 

The Loggers' five takeaway helped them overcome Whittier's 481-278 advantage in total offense. Wuesthoff had 17 tackles to go along with his interception to lead the Logger defense. Max Mirande had 15 tackles and Keefe had 13. Mike Raub had two sacks and the Loggers got to the quarterback five times in the game.

The Loggers are off next week but return to the gridiron on Oct. 5 when they travel down to Lewis & Clark for their Northwest Conference opener.