Constantly under siege by a swarming Menlo College defense, Occidental couldn’t find any rhythm Saturday and dropped a 17-6 nonconference game at Menlo.
It was Occidental’s first loss since an opening-weekend defeat to Azusa Pacific, ending a 5-game winning streak.
“We came out and played too conservatively in the first half,” Occidental quarterback Tony Werbelow said. “We came out throwing in the second half and it worked. We didn’t have enough time for the short passing game and Menlo took it away from us at the end of the game. They came up in a bump-and-run and we didn’t adjust.”
The Tigers (5-2 overall) accumulated only 32 total yards in the first half, yet trailed just 10-3 at halftime thanks to a solid defensive effort and a 28-yard field goal by Mark Collingsworth.
Menlo (6-2) went ahead with 5 seconds remaining in the half on an 8-yard pass from Scott DeSilva to Michael Kahahawai.
Collingsworth added a 43-yard field goal early in the third quarter to cut Menlo’s lead to 10-6. Occidental had a chance to win with 2:12 remaining in the game, but Werbelow was sacked on fourth down for an 11-yard loss on the Menlo 39.
Menlo added an insurance touchdown with 1:42 remaining when backup quarterback Greg Clark found receiver Chris Lupenui alone in the secondary for a 57-yard completion.
“They blitzed more than I anticipated,” Occidental Coach Dale Widolff said. “They blitzed to stop our run. I didn’t want to throw that much but the short passing game worked.”
Occidental’s running attack was limited to 56 yards. George Conahey was the Tigers’ leading rusher with 21 yards in 5 carries. Werbelow was slightly more successful, completing 16 of 27 passes for 122 yards (99 in the second half). Rob Leinbach caught 5 passes for 42 yards.