After a day of purple-and-gold-colored festivities, Whittier’s Homecoming celebrations were dampened by a 34-9 loss to Cal Lutheran University.
The Poets came into Homecoming Weekend still searching for their first win of the season, but were up against a tough opponent in Cal Lutheran. After an impressive shutout victory over Claremont Mudd-Scripps, the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran were hoping to win two consecutive games on Saturday, and they did.
Following the annual Athlete’s Parade, kickoff between the Poets and Kingsmen began at 5:00 p.m. The Kingsmen received the ball to begin the game and quickly worked the ball down the field on a 13-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to open the scoring. Only managing 8 yards of passing in the first half, the Poets needed to make their adjustments at halftime, facing a 27-0 deficit.
The scoreboard results set a hush over the crowd for most of the game, carrying over into the halftime performance. “I had to hype myself up to get to a dancing level,” sophomore and member of the Whittier College Dance Team Aaron Machado said about the audience’s general silence.
The Poets received the ball to begin the second half and junior kicker Eric Voss earned the team their first points of the evening after a 13 play, 68-yard drive. Coming back from an injury, first-year quarterback Miguel Avina received his first career start to begin the second half. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when the Poets were finally able to find the endzone off a one yard scamper from junior running back Drew Lewis.
Though a relatively quiet crowd overall, many people present fostered a great sense of Poet Pride. Undeterred by the team’s record this season, players’ family and friends found seats along the multi-tiered bleachers. Huge groups of supporters donned black jerseys with their personal star player’s number. Loved ones clutched cut-outs of paper faces of players, waving them in support. Bags stuffed with snacks and drinks fed these dedicated fans.
Carlos Perez was seated near the bottom of the silver bleachers, no stranger to the College campus. According to this committed father of junior offensive lineman Adrien Perez, he attended every game for three years, whether they were at home or away, with the only exception being an away game in Texas. For a game in Washington, the family loaded up their cars and followed their son. “It was an 18 or 19-hour drive one way,” Perez said. “After the game, we drove back home and had to go to work the next day.”
“It’s fun coming here and seeing all the parents cheering on their kids and sons and brothers; it’s good energy here at the football game,” said Poet dad Steve Grossman. He and his family, comprised of his wife and daughter, had watched the game, hoping for a Poet win.
While the Poets came away with a loss, family and friends remained supportive of the Poet football team, looking towards their next game on Oct. 29 at Occidental College for the annual “Shoes” rivalry game. The Poets are currently standing at a record of 0-6 on the season, with three games remaining on the schedule. After the away game at Occidental, the Poets will return home for their final two games against the University of Redlands and the University of La Verne.