Football wins first game of season

George Fox University sophomore offensive back Dominick Fix-Gonzalez fails to take down La Verne junior running back Dallas Parent at the end of the fourth quarter. The Leopards defeated the Bruins, 27-23, in their first game of the season Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium. The team will face the Whitworth Pirates Sept. 19 in Washington./ Photo by Kristina Bugante
George Fox University sophomore offensive back Dominick Fix-Gonzalez fails to take down La Verne junior running back Dallas Parent at the end of the fourth quarter. The Leopards defeated the Bruins, 27-23, in their first game of the season Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium. The team will face the Whitworth Pirates Sept. 19 in Washington. / photo by Kristina Bugante

Camila Rios
Staff Writer

The football team defeated George Fox University in its first game of the season, 27-23, Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.

The Leopards were able to recover a vital late turnover by George Fox, which turned out to be the game changer.

Down by two with 9:45 to play, senior linebacker Anthony Penalber recovered a fumble made by George Fox’s sophomore running back Dalton Moe.

Penalber finished the game with five tackles, along with a sack. Sparks-Jackson completed a 44-yard run to George Fox’s three-yard line.

Kennedy was able to push through and lift the Leopards to a 27-23 lead over the Bruins.

“I was shocked and excited all at the same time and it felt great to finally score a touchdown for the Leopards,” Kennedy said.

This was Kennedy’s first carry and touchdown of his four year career at La Verne.

The Leopards defense was able to hold off the Bruins, as they were not able to answer back.

“This team has a lot of energy, “ Kennedy said. “We aren’t the same team we were last season and we’re here to show everyone that.”

La Verne managed to get on the board first. Senior quarterback William Livingston was able to connect with junior wide receiver Alex Arellano, for a 66-yard touchdown pass, 7-0.

George Fox quickly answered back with a 21- yard run by junior quarterback Grant Schroeder.

La Verne blocked George Fox junior kicker Uriel Gonzalez’s kick keeping the Leopards in the lead by one, 7-6.

In the second quarter with 12 minutes left on the clock, George Fox managed to take the lead, 13-7.

Heading into the third quarter, down by six, the Leopards were motivated to take back the lead.

With 9:52 left on the clock in the third, senior running back Travis Sparks-Jackson scored a 3-yard touchdown, putting the Leopards back up, 14-13.

The Bruins found another way to answer back with four minutes left in the third quarter, after Schroeder scored a 36-yard run touchdown.

George Fox was able to push their lead and score once more to start the fourth. The Bruins scored a 30-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 23-14.

Senior linebacker Matt Canlas was a defensive leader after racking up a total of eight tackles.

“Feels good to get that win,” Sparks-Jackson said.

“But we need to keep our heads straight for the next game. We need to work on finishing drives,” he said.

Sparks-Jackson finished the game with 169 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also had 26 carries.

Senior tight end Bryan Okereke led the Leopards receiving end with five catches for 72 yards.

“We have to look at this game and learn from our mistakes,” Penalber said.

“Mainly work on knowing what to do, reading slower and playing faster,” he said.

This was the second time that the Leopards took on George Fox University and it was the second time they came out on top.

“It was cool to play them a second time and be up early and for them to finally come to our field and our teams just match up pretty well in a lot of aspects,” senior linebacker Kason Kennedy said. “Both teams have a lot of young players and their fairly new programs in terms of coaching staff.”

“George Fox played great,” La Verne head coach Chris Krich said.

“It was a good game but we made a lot of mistakes that need to be corrected for our next game,” he said.

La Verne has a bye week and will not play until Sept. 19, when they will face the Whitworth Pirates in Washington.

The team hopes to use the next two weeks to re-evaluate their playing and come out stronger for the rest of the season.

“We’ll be using this bye week to stay focused and healthy as well as mentally prepare for what’s to come,” Krich said.

Camila Rios can be reached at camila.riosgomez@laverne.edu.

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