Alexandra de Leon
The La Verne football team continued its winning streak, dominating the Whittier Poets Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium, 44-3.
The Leopards had been tied with Redlands for first place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings, but the tie was broken when Redlands lost to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps the same day.
The Leopards have a 3-0 record in SCIAC and 4-1 record overall.
“It’s becoming normal to win for us,” head coach Chris Krich said. “But we just play each game one at a time, play a championship game every time.” The Leopards got off to a strong start in the game.
La Verne sophomore linebacker Isaiah Gueits sacked Whittier senior quarterback Joseph Anderson and La Verne recovered the ball on the 12-yard line.
From there, La Verne senior quarterback William Livingston threw a 3-yard pass to senior wide receiver Alex Villalobos to put the Leopards on the board first.
Junior quarterback Zachary Tomlinson and the Leopards attempted a two-point conversion, but the run was stopped. With six minutes left in the first quarter, the Poets managed to get on the board.
Whittier freshman kicker Eric Voss kicked a 42-yard field goal and cut the deficit in half, 6-3. That was the only time the Poets scored, as the Leopards stayed in control for the rest of the game, both defensively and offensively.
With only 19 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter, Livingston threw a 38-yard touchdown pass from the right side to junior wide receiver Alex Arellano, extending the lead to 13-3.
Arellano finished the game with 89 receiving yards.
The Leopards defense excelled throughout the game.
The team made 12 tackles for a total Poets loss of 54 yards, including three sacks.
The Leopards held the Poets to just 163 total yards on offense.
“Everybody came ready to play, and we couldn’t leave anything on the field,” senior outside linebacker and safety Carvonte Hill said. “We needed to play to our full potential in the second half.”
Players said that Krich’s halftime speech motivated the Leopards to work as a united team and offensively and defensively.
“Coach got on our butts and he told us that we weren’t playing like we should have. We had a great game plan coming into this game and we weren’t executing it,” Livingston said.
“In the second half we went back to the start of the game plan and we ran it and executed it,” he said.
To start the second half, senior running back Travis Sparks-Jackson made a 46-yard touchdown run within the first two minutes of the third quarter to give the Leopards a 20-3 lead.
The Leopards continued to push the lead even further, scoring on consecutive possessions. The defense continued to stop Whittier’s offense.
From the 21-yard line, La Verne freshman kicker Eric Rembecky kicked a field goal to push the Leopards ahead, 23-3, heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, La Verne managed to score three more touchdowns and keep control of the game over Whittier.
Junior running back Dallas Parent started the fourth quarter with a 20-yard touchdown run for the Leopards, making the score 30-3.
Midway through the fourth quarter, senior tight end Bryan Okereke caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Livingston, putting La Verne up, 37-3. Livingston finished the game with 155 total yards.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, the Poets managed to get to the 25-yard line.
On fourth down with four yards to go, Anderson threw a pass to Poets sophomore wide receiver Brandon Takata, who was stopped short of the first down by Leopards senior defensive back Keoni Colson.
With 32 seconds left in the game, sophomore running back Destin Cabatbat scored a 36-yard touchdown run to finish off the Leopards’ 44-3 win.
“We came out ready to play, and unlike the first half, we knew we were better than them so we just did what we had to do,” Parent said.
The Leopards said they need to correct several mistakes before their next game Friday.
The team said they need to work on a few things like clean up some of its sloppy plays, stay consistent and pay more attention to details.
“We need to come out and start well on offense. We started slow today,” Arellano said. “Just have to clean up our mistakes and we should be good.”
The Leopards’ first place spot will be on the line when they take on the Redlands Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ted Runner Stadium.
Alexandra de Leon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.