The football team ended the 2011 season on Saturday on a high note by beating Whittier in a closely contested game, 24-20.
With the win over the Poets, the Leopards finished the season with its best record since 2005.
The Leopards dominated in all aspects of the game as they rushed and passed for more yards than the Poets and enjoyed more time of possession.
The first quarter of the game was a very tough defensive battle. Neither team managed to penetrate the other team’s defense in the first 15 minutes of the game, so the quarter ended in zeros.
The stalemate did not last long into the second quarter.
The Leopards got on the board at the 12:20 mark with a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Thomas Arguello to junior tight end Christian Winneswisser.
The play was a cap to a three-play drive that accumulated 53 yards and took 1:06 off the clock.
The Poets pulled three points back five minutes later when kicker Doug Soriano put the ball through the uprights from 26 yards out.
After Whittier brought the game to 7-3, the Leopards, who have been averaging 23.9 points on the season, answered back with a quick touchdown by the dangerous senior receiver Matt Griffin to end the quarter.
Coming out of the half to a score of 14-3, the Poets seemed to be more motivated to impress the crowd of 823 people in the second half.
“We knew we had to come out and play better if we wanted a chance,” Soriano said.
The Poets did what they knew they had to and came out and scored two touchdowns to take their first lead of the game.
The first touchdown came from Whittier forcing Leopard running back Matt Biggers to fumble on the six yard line.
The Poets quickly converted that turnover into points when they handed the ball off to junior running back Ruffus Osby.
Osby ran through the Leopard defense for a six-yard rushing touchdown.
The Poets did not stop the comeback there. After bringing the score to a very close 14-10, they built up a scoring drive of six plays and finished it off by giving the ball to Donnell Griffin, who ran 33 yards for a touchdown.
“I tried to be patient and wait for the hole,” Griffin said.
Griffin finished the game with a game-leading 89 rushing yards on 11 attempts.
Three minutes after Whittier took their first lead of the game, reliable Leopard kicker Alex Miller put his foot through the ball and brought La Verne level with a 38-yard field goal.
With the score at 17-17 it was Soriano’s turn to give his team points.
He did just that when he kicked a field goal from 37 yards away from his end zone to give his team the lead again.
The Leopards would not lose their chance to finish off their season on the right foot though.
They took the lead for good when they scored on an 11-yard scoring drive.
The drive was topped off when Biggers, who finished the game with 71 rushing yards on 22 attempts, ran into the end zone from four yards out to bring the game to a final score of 24-20.
Senior linebacker Fillip Marcelin again led the Leopards on the defensive side of the ball with a total of 12 tackles, taking down seven Poets on his own.
Arguello finished with 259 yards on 22 completions out of 40 tries and two touchdowns.
Griffin completed his Leopard career on a high note with nine catches totalling in 137 yards and touchdown while Ho finished his career with 42 yards.
First year head coach Chris Krich finished the season by helping La Verne football finish the season with a 4-5 record.
La Verne finishes the season in a three-way tie with Occidental and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for third place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a record of 3-3.
Kevin Parada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.