Leopard football plans to roll past Claremont

by Rosie Sinapi
Sports Editor

No one ever said it would be easy to win SCIAC outright, but with La Verne football, one of only two teams in conference still undefeated, it’s looking like ULV might do it.

The only other undefeated team is Occidental, who the Leopards face in two weeks. They have only lost once this season, against NAIA Azusa Pacific University.

With two games left, Head Coach Rex Huigens says the team is just taking it one game at a time. But those two last games have a chance to end their 10 game winning streak.

Tomorrow, the Leos travel to play the fifth-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags, who are 1-3 in SCIAC and 2-5 overall. The Stags lost to the University of Redlands in their last outing, 38-27.

Although the Leopards are coming off a 36-33 win against Chapman University, the Stags still pose problems. The striking force of their passing game has caused opponents major problems. Many do not want to think it, but La Verne is not the only SCIAC school with the ability to produce big plays. The Stag hook up of quarterback John Shipp and wide receiver Mike Cook have provided for 36 receptions this year.

“We have our hands full,” said Huigens. “We want to contain him [Shipp]. We don’t want big plays.”

Claremont’s passing offense is first in SCIAC and seventh in the nation, averaging 279.2 yards per game as of Oct. 22. But if La Verne’s defense manages to keep the Stags from using their explosive throwing game, it will leave Claremont with little hope.

“Our defensive backs are going to get worked, but I think our offense is going to do pretty well,” said senior linebacker Chris Salabaj.

Missing from the defense will be key players juniors Sean Fennison, David Sutton and Stacey Crumbler, all of whom were hurt in last Saturday’s game.

“David Sutton will probably be out for this week or maybe two. Sean Fennison is out for two weeks. Stacey Crumbler might be back for the Oxy game” said Huigens.

Although La Verne has found suitable replacements for the players, including last Saturday night’s replacement junior Kevin White, the team hopes that the injured will be back soon.

The Leopard offensive line has been helpful in the past by opening up the middle for the fast running abilities of the secondary. Senior offensive linemen Jeff Drouin, juniors Javier Arreola and Eduardo Quezada, sophomore Pat Samsonas and freshman Dan Fewx are steady faces on the line. According to Huigens, having a steady line has helped the team. If they and the rest of the offensive line can maintain their stance, then the Leo running game can be secured.

Likewise, the handiwork of junior quarterback Ryan Campuzano has helped the Leos out of several jams. With the steady aid of pass protection and the use of all receivers and running backs, scoring will not be a problem.

“I think we’re going to score some points and if we hold down how many points they score, hopefully we’ll win the game,” said Huigens.

Scoring points is what the Leopards did last Saturday night during their 36-33 duel at Chapman University.

The Leopards’ first possession of the game led to a touchdown when Campuzano took the ball on a 6-yard run.

“I thought Ryan played well. He’s doing a great job running the offense,” said Huigens.

Campuzano finished the night with 19 completions for 242 yards.

Unfortunately, it was not all blue skies for Campuzano and the offense. Later in the first quarter, he fumbled the ball on the Chapman 48 yard line and Panther defensive lineman Toney Eggleson strutted down the field for a 52-yard touchdown.

From there, the cat and mouse game began. Utilizing the speed of both the running backs and the ULV receivers, the offense made another touchdown with 5:20 left in the first quarter when Darren MacLellan ran the ball in for a 5-yard touchdown.

The Panthers came back late in the first quarter when quarterback Curtis Robinson connected with running back Darnell Morgan for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Both the Leos and the Panthers were unsuccessful in long field goal attempts. The first half ended with the teams tied 14-14.

“They had some people making some good plays,” said Huigens about the Panthers.

Chapman began the second half by scoring on its first possession, after Campuzano was picked off by defensive back Mister Albritton. Panther running back Aaron Meschuk ran the ball in for a 17-yard touchdown.

Not only were the Leos trailing, but Sutton was injured on the play.

The Leos were not down for long when Campuzano connected with sophomore wide receiver Anthony Rice for a 30-yard touchdown pass. Although the defense tried to stop the Panthers from scoring again, Robinson was able to connect with wide receiver Terrence Green for a 44-yard touchdown pass.

The fourth quarter began with the injury of yet another Leo, Stacey Crumbler.

With 8:45 left in the game, the Leos came back with a Campuzano 8-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Will English.

Wide receiver Robert Trice did not allow the the Leopards any time to celebrate when he caught another pass from Robinson.

With tensions mounting and the Leos’ winning streak on the line, they managed to pull off a win. The defense happened to foul up the Panthers attempt for a two point conversion.

Then with three minutes left in a game, MacLellan took the ball in for yet another Leo touchdown. He duplicated his run on the two point conversion, giving the Leos a 36-33 lead.

The game was not in the bag. The Panthers managed to get the ball to the La Verne 17 yard line when Kurt Van Fossen intercepted a Chapman pass with :50 seconds left.

La Verne spent the rest of the game running the clock down and managed to extend their record to 4-0 in SCIAC.

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