Hundreds filled the stands at Ortmayer Stadium for Homecoming on Oct. 13 to cheer on the Leopards as they faced Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and lost, 30-17.
“I felt as a team we did what we needed to do,” junior wingback Juan Gutierrez said. “But I feel like not all of us have given enough effort.”
The Stags made their first touchdown with a 14-play, 61-yard drive. Junior wide receiver Anderson Cynkar caught the 9-yard pass from junior quarterback Wal Kuhlenkamp for the touchdown.
Though the Stags set the tone early, the Leopards responded with a 15-play drive that covered 71 yards, but came to a standstill, forcing the Leopards to kick a 20-yard field goal by junior Max Jimenez.
However, the score did not stay put and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps increased their lead once again as the first quarter came to an end with an eight-play, 65-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown by junior running back Justin Edwards and a successful kick, ending the first quarter, 14-3.
In the second quarter, the Leopards got some help after Stags freshman wide receiver Ben Kim failed to field a punt within their red zone. The lost ball was recovered by junior cornerback Salah Odeh, putting the Leopards on the Stags’ 11-yard line.
Junior quarterback Nick Garcia and Gutierrez connected for the touchdown on a 11-yard pass, putting the Leopards within four points of the lead, 14-10.
“We fought as a team,” Jimenez said. “Bringing it up today like a brotherhood — I felt like we did that today.”
But the momentum for La Verne did not last long. The Leopards fell back once again after Claremont-Mudd-Scripps showed their offensive effectiveness with a six-play drive that led to another touchdown, with the help of 45 yards of penalties by the Leopards. The second quarter ended 17-10.
During halftime, fans did not let the score get to their head as the spirit of Homecoming was present and alive. There was nearly no space with over a thousand people in attendance.
Music played and fans in the stands sang and danced to the beat.
But the celebration and joy did not stop there as La Verne’s dance team performed on the field. This was the dance team’s first performance in over a year for Homecoming, and a range of emotions were felt prior and during their performance.
“Every performance and every time that we are able to perform it is a privilege,” sophomore dance captain Ryley Pittenger said. “We were all very nervous but mostly excited to represent our team.”
Within the fans in attendance, Joey Gutierrez from the High Desert, Juan’s father, was present supporting his son. He said that he promised his son $100 for every touchdown he made in an effort to drive the team to a win.
“It’s exciting to see them score a touchdown,” Gutierrez said. “The whole team you see they are putting their effort made – win or lose.”
Back on the field for the third quarter, and with a little under eight minutes left, the Stags scored on a 14-yard run which came from a 10-play drive that covered 75 yards. The score stood 24-10.
By the fourth quarter, the Stags extended their lead to 30-10 with a 2-yard run following 11 plays which covered 62 yards.
The Leopards attempted to catch up with less than two minutes on the clock, as senior quarterback Jonathan Martin led the offense down the field resulting in a nine-play, 73-yard drive and finished the drive with a 3-yard run for the touchdown.
An onside kick was attempted, but the Stags quickly recovered the ball, running out the clock and winning the game, 30-17.
The Leopards followed up by hosting Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday and lost, 20-7.
The Leopards are 1-6 overall and 0-5 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. They travel to Redlands on Saturday to face the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.
Romualdo Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.