The only thing Whittier College piled up more than points and yardage were flags.
But not even 254 yards in penalties could slow down the Poets’ offense.
Rufus Osby rushed for 184 yards and two scores, Steven Rivera threw four touchdowns and Whittier beat the University of Puget Sound, 55-24, in a non-conference game Saturday at Baker Stadium.
UPS (0-3) has now lost 12 consecutive games dating to Oct. 30, 2010, since they defeated Pacific Lutheran, 42-31.
“We just aren’t playing with any consistency,” UPS coach Jeff Thomas said. “I thought we played defensively the best we have all season in the first quarter, but we failed to maximize the momentum and take advantage of it offensively. In the second half, it was reversed.”
Loggers quarterback Braden Foley completed 24 of 43 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.
Adam Kniffin caught four passes for a team-high 62 yards, making the senior the Loggers’ all-time leader in career receiving yards with 2,326. Kniffin. He broke the career mark of 2,264 yard set by Mike Bos (1979-82), and owns nine school receiving records.
“Adam’s just a very special player,” Thomas said. “He’s one of the best receivers in the country. He’s constantly made the big catch for us.”
Whittier finished with 639 total yards of offense – all of which was needed to offset 18 penalties by the Poets.
Kupono Park’s 1-yard plunge followed by Kniffin’s reception on the 2-point conversion pulled UPS within 10 points at 27-17 early in the third quarter, but the Loggers’ defense gave up big chucks of yards on the Poets’ ensuing drive, which Osby capped with a 42-yard TD run to give Whittier breathing room.
Park, who rushed for 119 yards on 24 carries, added his second 1-yard TD run with 4 minutes, 16 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The Poets were flagged for an illegal block in the back on the opening kickoff – wiping Kimble Tillman’s 97-yard touchdown return off the board and laying the foundation for a penalty-filled game for the visitors. Whittier was penalized 12 times for 218 yards in the first half alone, but still managed to take a 27-9 lead at halftime.
Spearheaded by a stellar effort from Connor Savage, UPS played inspired defense in the first quarter, turning Whittier away on third-and-goal from the 4 on the Poets’ opening possession before surrendering a 21-yard field goal.
Savage, who finished with a pair of interceptions, registered a safety to pull the Loggers within a point at 3-2 midway through the first quarter before stopping another Whittier drive with his first interception – the first of two picks in the first quarter for UPS.
The Loggers carried momentum over into the second quarter, posting their first lead at 9-3 when Foley hit Galen Arakawa on a 21-yard scoring strike.
But the remainder of the first half belonged to the Poets as Rivera started to find his stride, tossing TD passes of 29 and 27 yards to Dameron Fooks on back-to-back Whittier possessions.
Following Doug Soriano’s 31-yard field goal, which increased the Poets lead to 20-9 with 3:55 to play in the half, the Loggers marched down the field, advancing to the Whittier 18 before Foley tossed his third interception of the half.
The turnover not only killed a UPS scoring chance, it also occurred with 1:28 remaining, which proved to be more than enough time for the Poets to score again as Anthony Walker ran it in from from the 18 with 6 seconds to go, giving Whittier an 18-point cushion.