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La Verne’s offense could not find the end zone as the Leopards dropped their opening game to Whitworth, 38-2.
The Leopards were able to rush for 131 yards in the game, junior running back James Gonsalves led the Leopards with 64 yards on the ground while senior quarterback Josh Evans passed for 116 yards.
After getting shutout in the first quarter, the Leopards defense came up big in the second quarter courtesy of senior defensive lineman Austin Brown.
Brown got penetration and sacked junior quarterback Leif Ericksen to get La Verne on the board, but they still trailed 21-2 at halftime.
“It was a great feeling to be able to put some points on the board, and help my teammates out the best that I could,” Brown said.
Brown, a returning All-SCIAC performer, finished the game with three tackles for loss, including the sack safety.
In the second half, the defense came out and forced three turnovers.
On the Pirates’ first possession of the second half, La Verne junior linebacker Conner Johnson met Whitwoth senior running back Mason Elms in the backfield. Johnson was able to jar the ball loose as it was recovered by sophomore defensive back Andrew Camargo, giving possession to the Leopards.
La Verne failed to convert on a fourth and short and gave the ball back to Whitworth on their own 22-yard line.
Once Whitworth got the ball back junior quarterback Nick McGill was picked off by sophomore defensive back Raymond Moronez at La Verne’s 1-yard line.
With the defense forcing multiple turnovers in the half, they set up the Leopards offense to be able to swing momentum and get back in the game.
Unfortunately for La Verne’s defense, the offense could not get going all game.
After four straight runs for no gain, La Verne was forced to punt the ball away.
Whitworth held the Leopards down for the majority of the game, except for some chunk plays in both the running and passing game.
La Verne did win the time of possession battle and held on to the ball for over 35 minutes, compared to just 24 for the Pirates. Both teams turned the ball over three times.
The Leopards played a relatively clean game in terms of penalties, only having six penalties accepted against them for 50 yards, while the Pirates had over 100 yards in penalties accepted.
Brown said head coach Chris Krich told the team to not hang their heads on the game and to learn from the situation as well as some of the mistakes.
But Brown said the defense did reach their goal of forcing three turnovers, which is their goal for every game.
“Just being able to start faster and get things done more in the first half would be a great boost for us,” Brown said.
The Leopards will continue action as they host Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior Universidad for their first home game of the season at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Mark Acosta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.