by Lori Cruz
“We were one Anthony down, but we managed to find some new weapons,” said senior quarterback Ryan Campuzano about the University of La Verne football team’s victory Saturday. The Leos cruised past the Occidental Tigers, giving the Leos a perfect 7-0 record for the season.
The Leos were without senior running back Anthony Jones, who was sidelined by a fractured rib, but they managed to defeat Oxy, 34-7. La Verne’s defense stepped it up a notch, limiting the Tigers to only 150 yards in total offense.
The defense created La Verne’s first scoring opportunity with a fumble recovery on a pitch play, which led to junior wide receiver Anthony Rice’s first touchdown. The 1-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter was followed by the extra point by senior kicker Juan Contreras, giving La Verne a 7-0 lead.
With 9:22 remaining in the second quarter, a holding penalty was called on a 25-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Ordell Williams. The penalty forced Contreras to kick a 36-yard field goal that gave the Leos a 10-0 advantage.
A 63-yard touchdown run by Rice with 6:58 remaining gave the Leos a 17-0 lead.
Leading the Leo defense were senior linebacker Doug DuBois and senior safety Carl Caston, who each contributed 13 tackles. Senior Jake McDonald added five tackles and a sack.
“Our defense did well. We have solid guys, they did it for us Saturday,” said Campuzano.
Although a little sloppy at times, this was a La Verne team that was determined not to be denied, as evidenced by a bizarre series of plays in the second quarter. The strange sequence began when junior running back Jairanai Smoot returned a punt 58 yards to the Oxy 8-yard line, only to have it nullified by a clipping penalty, returning the ball to La Verne’s 40-yard line.
On the next play, Rice’s apparent touchdown run was called back on a penalty, placing the ball at La Verne 35-yard line. The very next play, Campuzano found junior wide receiver Anthony Hayes open on a 63-yard pass play, leading to another 2-yard touchdown run by Rice. Again, Contreras’ conversion was good, ending the second half with the Leos leading, 24-0.
Although Rice had that 60-yard touchdown run negated by a penalty, he finished with 245 yards rushing on 34 carries and 39 yards receiving, for 284 total yards and four touchdowns. Hayes caught three passes for 76 yards.
Early in the fourth quarter, Contreras hit a 35-yard field goal to bring the Leos to a 27-0 lead.
With 9:26 left to go in the game, Rice caught an 18-yard pass for a first down. Campuzano passed to Rice for a 4-yard touchdown and conversion by Contreras.
After breezing to a 34-0 lead, the Leos showed some mercy late in the fourth quarter, allowing an 11-yard touchdown run by Oxy quarterback Jarrett Pitteroff, bringing the score to 34-7.
Although the team had a successful game on the scoreboard, Head Coach Don Morel said. “The team was due for a letdown and [with this game], they had a letdown.”
“Offensively, we had some mental breakdowns,” Campuzano said, who threw for 127 yards in the game. “It was a marginal victory. I felt inside like I lost.”
“I’m not disappointed. I’m not saying we played our best, but you go on to the next game and you don’t mope,” said Rice. “We have worked hard at practice and we got the job done. The game was a good experience.”
Tomorrow the Leos play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 1 p.m. for Homecoming.
Morel said he is “hoping for a win” tomorrow and added that the team has two more games before the playoffs are determined.
Campuzano said that the team and the coaches try to make it fun for everyone who attends Homecoming and he adding that “we have something in for Claremont.”