LOS ANGELES, Calif. — With the lights on and the band playing for the first time in 2011, the product on the field Saturday was not what the Occidental College football team envisioned for its first home game.
The Tigers turned the ball over four times, twice in the red zone, and had punt blocked in a 41-17 loss to Menlo College at Jack Kemp Stadium.
Oxy was able to move the chains, totaling 21 first downs, but losing possession too frequently proved costly in the team's first night game in Eagle Rock.
"We're disappointed, but not discouraged," Occidental coach Dale Widolff said. "We had some opportunities, we just didn't make plays."
The Tigers (1-1) led 7-3 until Menlo (3-0) turned a Luke Collis interception into a 25-yard scoring drive that sparked a 17-point second quarter for the Oaks.
Oxy had the ball and a chance to cut into a 20-10 halftime deficit, but fumbled deep in Menlo territory with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. The Tigers had another opportunity to get back in the game late in the third quarter, but again fumbled this time on Menlo's two.
"Whenever you lose the ball as many times as we did tonight it's going to be tough to come out on top," Occidental coach Dale Widolff said. "We weren't as good as we would have liked, but it's early in the season and there's plenty of stuff we can do to get better going forward."
The Tigers (1-1) passed for 235 yards to Menlo's 199, but struggled to stop Thomas Reynolds and the Oaks ground game. Reynolds ran for 137 yards on 18 carries and Menlo rushed for 203 as a team.
"We struggled against the run, but Reynolds is a good player and they are a pretty good team," Widolff said.
Ryan Rodriguez was the highlight of Occidental's passing game with 11 receptions for 125 yard and a touchdown.
"We did well moving the ball but when it came down to it on crucial plays we just made mistakes. That's kind of the way the game went. Mistakes trumped anything good we did," Rodriguez said. It was frustrating in that aspect, that whenever we took steps forward, we took steps back."
Bobby Phillips caught the other Tigers touchdown and Josh Mun kicked a 32-yard field goal to round out the Oxy scoring.
"I wish I could have done more. I feel like I made a couple of plays and missed a couple of plays," Holsworth said. "Everybody could have done more."
Depending on how you look at it, Oxy has to live with this loss for an extra seven days with a bye next Saturday or they have two weeks to get healthy and fix what was broken before SCIAC play starts at Whittier on Oct. 8.
"This is kind of a wake up call that we've got to execute and we have to perform," Holsworth said. "We will get better and use this as a spark against Whittier."