With a minute and four seconds left on the clock, senior quarterback Zak Tomlinson threw a pass for a successful two-point conversion, leading the Leopards to their first win of the season against the Occidental Tigers Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.
The fans who attended the Homecoming game went wild at the time of the buzzer as the Leopards walked out victorious, winning 57-56.
La Verne is now 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Head coach Chris Krich said this win was a weight lifted off the team’s shoulders.
“I’m so proud of our players. They believed the entire time. They just did an outstanding job of just never giving up and I’m so proud of them, it was unbelievable,” Krich said.
Senior running back Dallas Parent rushed 75 yards to score the first touchdown of the game, starting off strong to place La Verne at 7-0.
With a successful field goal and two touchdowns in the first quarter, Occidental quickly led, 17-7.
In the second quarter, Parent and sophomore wide receiver DaeJohn Logan scored two touchdowns to place the Leopards up once again, 21-17.
At 1st and 10, a complete pass from Tomlinson to freshman wide receiver Grayson Kline led to La Verne scoring the final touchdown of the half with 52 seconds left on the clock, with the Leopards in the lead, 28-25.
The game remained neck and neck in the second half.
In a 94-yard rush, the Tigers closely followed the Leopards 32-35.
During the third quarter, both teams pushed themselves, tying the game 42-42.
“We got some things we gotta clean up a little bit, but our will is the thing that I’m most proud about,” Krich said.
“Obviously the x’s and o’s are things that we’re always gonna be adjusting, but there’s things you can’t coach out there, there’s things you can’t write on the board. It’s in your heart and I think that’s the thing that our players have the most and gets us through these times.”
Two of the four turnovers in the game resulted from an interception and fumble by the end of the third, hindering the Leopards.
Occidental finished the quarter leading 49-42.
Tomlinson completed 14-of-19 passes for 205 yards, leading his team as he replaced sophomore quarterback Josh Evans, who was out for the game due to a prior concussion.
Freshman defensive back Josh Padilla contributed a game high of 15 tackles.
The defense also made a total of three sacks, resulting in a loss of 14 yards.
“Words can’t even explain how happy I am right now, I’m proud of our boys,” sophomore defensive back Derrin Hooks said. “We work so hard week in and week out and I’m so happy we just got this win.”
In the fourth quarter, senior wide receiver Alex Arellano scored a 5-yard touchdown, bringing the Leopards closer, 56-49.
Then a 41-yard touchdown by Logan set the Leopards up for their victory.
Logan racked up 9 receptions for a total of 155 yards.
“I feel really relieved. All the hard work that we’ve been training for, the doubts in everybody’s mind, we finally stepped up and played,” Logan said.
Arellano scored the final points with the two-point conversion. The pass was later named Play of the Week by D3football.com.
Parent and senior defensive back James Ferraro were also named to the D3football.com Team of the Week.
Parent finished the game with 298 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns.
Ferraro was successful on defense and special teams as he blocked one field goal, defended five passes and made three tackles.
Krich said this win is good momentum and the team is excited and ready for their next game.
La Verne will face the Chapman Panthers at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ernie Chapman Stadium in Orange.
Hannah Burton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.