The Leopards scored, with 1:20 left in the game making it 20-14, Stag. Then with a failed onside kick attempt by the Leopards and time out left, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps ran out the clock, handing the Leopards their third loss of the season.
The Leopards opened up conference play against CMS Saturday night at Zinda Field in Claremont.
“This is a huge game we expect to win, we have had a great week at practice,” head coach Andrew Ankeny said. “We have to put it together and get after it for all four quarters.”
The Stags scored first by making a 24-yard field goal with 7:51 left in the first quarter. The Stags also added three more points before the quarter was over by taking advantage of a Leopard fumble on their own 23 yard line, making it 6-0 Stags at the end of the first quarter.
The Stags added to their lead on a 58-yard pass from quarterback Patrick Rooney to wide receiver Spencer Clark on their second possession of the quarter.
“They are a really good team who run the option, we have to be disciplined, execute and make big plays,” said Mark Odin, defensive coordinator.
A big play is exactly what they got from the defensive side of the ball, when corner back Ryan Baranek intercepted a Rooney pass and returned it 33 yards to the Stags 25 yard line with 2:48 left in the half.
The Leopards offense took advantage of the turnover, going 25 yards in seven plays.
They scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Winnewisser to wide receiver Matt Griffin making the score 20-14 CMS going into half time.
“We have to maintain balance, and keep our defense off the field,” Ankeny said.
The second half was dominated by both teams defensively.
The Leopards held the stags to one of nine on third down conversions, and La Verne was held to two of six on third down conversions in the second half.
Then with 2:46 on the clock in the fourth quarter the Stags scored on their eighth possession of the half, on one play with a 52 yard quarterback keeper by Rooney.
When most thought that score put the game away for good, the Leopards rallied and drove the ball 68 yards and scored on a two yard rushing touchdown by running back Devon Libran, making the score 20-14, Stags.
With 1:20 left in the fourth quarter the Leopards went for the onside kick which was recovered by the Stags.
The Stags then took advantage of the Leopards not having any time outs left and took a knee to run out the clock.
“We were able to throw the ball effectively and move the ball, which is a good thing,” said Gary Golden, freshman quarterback.
“We had a lot of positives from Saturday, our defense and special teams played phenomenal and were only one or two plays from putting it together on offense,” Ankeny said. “All we can do is to continue to improve and fix the negatives and take this momentum into Occidental.”
The Leopards continue with Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Play at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Ortmayer Stadium against Occidental.
The Leopards will need to pull out all the stops against the Tigers as they are the defending SCIAC champions. Last season Occidental went undefeated with a record of 6-0, and beat La Verne 40-27.
ULV is averaging only 10.3 points per game, while Occidental is scoring an average of 31.3 points per game. Their offense will need to step up if they plan on beating Occidental.
The Leopards will then head on the road for their next two conference games.
At 1 p.m. on Oct. 16 La Verne will head to Thousand Oaks to play Cal Lutheran and at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 they will play in Orange and take on Chapman.
Nolasco Pesina can be reached at email@example.com.