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Daniel Rosenberg scores a first-half touchdown (photo by Nataly Mayison)
Daniel Rosenberg scores a first-half touchdown (photo by Nataly Mayison)

One Yard Away: CMS Football Falls Agonizingly Short of Clinching SCIAC Championship Berth

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Walter Kuhlenkamp was stopped one yard short on 4th-and-goal from the five-yard line with 30 seconds left, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team fell 14-10 to Chapman on Saturday at Zinda Field.

The loss drops CMS to 6-2 on the year and 4-2 in the SCIAC, with both losses coming to Chapman. The Panthers are now 4-3 overall and 4-2 in the SCIAC, and hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Stags for the right to play in the first-ever SCIAC Championship game, which will be held on Nov. 11 between the two division winners. 

CMS could still earn a championship game bid with a win at Cal Lutheran next weekend, but they would need Chapman to lose its finale to La Verne in order to move back into first place. 

The Stags felt like they were in good shape when Rich Brutto connected on a 36-yard field goal with 14:15 to go in the fourth quarter, giving  CMS a 10-0 lead. Chapman had yet to get the ball into the CMS red zone through the first three quarters, and needed two scores in the fourth quarter in order to have a chance. 

The Panthers responded to the challenge, though, driving 75 yards in nine plays to score on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Luke Peterman to Gian Langemann with 9:57 to play. After earning a stop, the duo connected again on a 14-yard pass down to the one-yard line, and Peterman was able to rush it from there to give the Panthers their first lead with 3:28 to play. 

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, and CMS took over at the 35-yard line. Kuhlenkamp found Anderson Cynkar for a 10-yard gain, and then had two carries for 10 yards to move the chains again, picking up four yards on 3rd-and-4 at the Chapman 45. On 3rd-and-12, he connected over the middle with Mason Cotton for a 14-yard gain to the Chapman 33, and then hit Bryce DesJardins for a 28-yard pass down to the five-yard line with 48 seconds left. 

The Panthers came up with four big defensive plays in a row, though, as Kade Jordan tackled Justin Edwards for no gain and then batted down a pass to make it third down. Kuhlenkamp threw a fade route to Cynkar in the end zone, but it was knocked down by Renick Martin to set up fourth down.

Kuhlenkamp faked a shovel pass to the left and rolled to his right with a playoff bid on the line, and it appeared that he was headed for the end zone with a head of steam. He crossed the line of scrimmage with no turning back, and then launched himself towards the end zone, but Collin Keefe and Kyle Sieben were able to combine on a tackle that turned him sideways in midair and left him down on the ground at the one-yard line, agonizingly close to a championship berth. CMS had just one timeout left, and Chapman was able to run two successful quarterback sneaks to kill off the final 30 seconds and secure the win. 

The Stags took a 7-0 lead with 11:59 left in the half, when Daniel Rosenberg caught a seven-yard pass from Kuhlenkamp in the left side of the end zone, capping a 12-play, 70-yard drive that covered 6:13. The Brutto field goal in the fourth quarter that made it 10-0 capped a 16-play drive that brough CMS all the way down to the two-yard line, as the Stags overcame a 2nd-and-20 situation on a 10-yard Kuhlenkamp run and a 19-yard pass to DesJardins. 

However, a mishandled exchange on a run play to Ben Kim led to a six-yard loss, and a false start penalty pushed CMS further back, forcing the Stags to settle for a 36-yard field goal.

Kuhlenkamp finished 17-30 passing for 167 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 38 yards on 13 carries. DesJardins led the receiving unit with 76 yards on three catches. Chase Cioe led the defense with nine tackles, while Jacob O'Connell and Emmett Thomas King III each had eight and Joey Asta had seven. 

CMS honored 19 members of the Class of 2024 prior to the game, as part of Senior Day. The Stags will head to Cal Lutheran next week looking to do their part by earning a road win and hoping that the Chapman-La Verne result goes their way.