The football team destroyed Whittier for the second time this season Saturday at Memorial Stadium, 50-26.
The Leopards’ defense held the Poets’ offense to 26 points after receiving two interceptions and restricted their run plays to just a few yards throughout the game.
Senior defensive lineman Khary Sanders said the defense had to step up from their previous game and make a statement against the Poets.
“We had to show that we are one of the best defenses in our conference and we stayed focused, locked in and disciplined in everything we did out there,” Sanders said.
After a penalty on the first drive, the Poets finished the drive with a 37-yard field goal, 3-0.
The Leopards’ were hungry to beat Whittier the minute they stepped onto the field and proved it by scoring on each possession they had during the first quarter.
The highlight score came from senior quarterback Tyrone Williams Jr., who kept the ball and ran past four defensive backs to punch in a 55-yard rushing touchdown.
The Leopards led 21-3 after the first quarter.
The second quarter gave the Poets’ the momentum to fight for their first touchdown after their wide receiver rushed for 53 yards then ran for a one-yard touchdown to bump the score to 21-10.
The Leopards’ started their next drive with a quarterback switch from Williams, who injured his hamstring on the touchdown run, to sophomore quarterback Miguel Aguero Jr.
Williams said he will be cleared to practice before the team’s next game.
When freshman running back Ezra Tom Hoon received the ball for the first time in the game, he rushed for 30 yards, his longest run this season.
“If it wasn’t for the coaching and the guys in front, it wouldn’t have worked,” Tom Hoon said. “But that was one of the best runs I have had this season and seeing the guys go to work to make it happen, felt good.”
Tom Hoon’s run set up an Aguero touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ethan Mederios.
The Poets’ offense took advantage of another Leopard penalty and executed a one-yard touchdown for sophomore running back Chandler Mccaffer.
Another Leopards touchdown before the half increased their lead 35-17.
The Leopards started hot in the third quarter.
Freshman tight end Colton Pettit was wide open with no defensive back in sight and caught a 29-yard pass from Aguero and scored on the left side of the end zone, 42-17.
The Poets’ offense pushed down the field quickly but the Leopards’ defense stopped the Poets on all four downs at the goal line and prevented them from scoring.
La Verne senior defensive end Derek Shay said that moment boosted their energy and helped them push through the rest of the game.
“It killed the drive they were having and the momentum they were having,” Shay said. “From then on, we had it locked down and we were able to play good defense.”
After a safety and a Poets’ failed drive, La Verne freshman running back Daushin Wright took advantage of the ball placement by avoiding a tackle and ran for a 28-yard touchdown, increasing the lead to 50-19.
On the Leopards’ next drive, a punt return fumble gave the Poets an opportunity to score.
Whittier completed a 39-yard pass to the end zone, making the final score 50-26.
Williams said going into their next conference game on Saturday, La Verne needs to play their games one week at a time and stay consistent in order to win.
“We need to see this game like any other week and not make it bigger than what it is,” Williams said. “We can make this season above .500 and finish the season off 5-4.”
The Leopards will travel to face neighborhood rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 1 p.m. Saturday in Claremont.
Jaydelle Herbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.