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CMS with the Sixth Street Trophy (photo by Dave Tabb)
CMS with the Sixth Street Trophy (photo by Dave Tabb)

CMS Football Takes Back Sixth Street Trophy with 30-20 Win over Pomona-Pitzer

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Jacob O'Connell (79 yards) and Thanio Bright (35 yards) had interception returns for touchdowns 15 seconds apart in the game's first five minutes as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and held on for a 30-20 win over Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday at Zinda Field.

With the win, CMS takes back the Sixth Street Trophy and improves to 4-0 on the season, including 2-0 in SCIAC play. Pomona-Pitzer slips to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the league.

The teams have traditionally met in the regular season finale every year, but with the SCIAC adopting a new championship game format, the Sixth Street game fell in September this year, but the teams could meet again for the SCIAC title in November if they each win their own division. 

CMS earned the likely home field advantage in that scenario behind a stellar performance from its secondary, which produced three interceptions (Cesar Fernandez also had one). O'Connell had an interception return for the second week in a row, after also returning one 46 yards last week against Cal Lutheran, and it was also his second career "pick six" against Pomona-Pitzer, after an 85-yard return for a touchdown in the season opener in 2021 (his college debut). 

That one ended the scoring in a CMS victory in the final minute, whereas this one set the tone at the start of the game. Pomona-Pitzer had driven 41 yards in 11 plays to get into Stag territory, but O'Connell picked off a pass at the CMS 21, and ran it back untouched 79 yards for a score with 10:41 left in the first quarter. 

Pomona-Pitzer then got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff, and after two incompletions, Bright stepped in front of a receiver and ran it back 35 yards to make it 14-0 with 10:26 on the first quarter clock. 

Rich Brutto came up big with three field goals in wet and rainy conditions, stretching the lead to 23-7 at the half by connecting from 24, 45 and 32 yards. But Pomona-Pitzer had a strong third quarter after regrouping in the locker room, and converted a pair of touchdowns to close to within 23-20 heading into the fourth. 

The first play of the fourth proved to be a back-breaker as Walter Kuhlenkamp found Ben Kim all alone for a 25-yard touchdown, making the score 30-20. The Stags then forced a three-and-out, and although they did not score on their next possession, they milked 7:05 off the clock in 10 plays, and Samuel Brewer pinned the Sagehens on their own five-yard line with a punt and just 5:41 to work with. Pomona-Pitzer crossed midfield to the CMS 49-yard line, but turned it over on downs to seal the win for CMS. 

Kuhlenkamp finished 17-29 passing for 214 yards, while Justin Edwards had 65 yards on the ground on 20 carries. Kirby Baynes and Joey Asta led CMS with nine tackles apiece. while Michael Houk and Caleb Chang each had 1.5 sacks. 

CMS will be back in action on Saturday when it travels to Chapman to try to keep its undefeated season going.