CLAREMONT- The University of La Verne football team encountered a 31-23 setback against Pomona-Pitzer Saturday.
The Leopards were unable to find the paydirt in the first quarter and fell into a 14-0 deficit before senior quarterback Justin Gomez found senior wideout John Lilly for a 30-yard touchdown reception with 5:54 remaining in the half to cap an eight-play, 70-yard drive. A flurry of points ensued, as the Sagehens broke a long run for a score less than two minutes later, but the Leos struck back quickly. A 77-yard kickoff return from freshman running back Dallas Parent set up a short field for a nine-yard touchdown run from sophomore tailback Travis Sparks-Jackson. Senior kicker Alex Miller added a 34-yard field goal as time expired to cut the deficit to four going in to the break, 21-17.
"We came out flat and gave up some quick points," said coach Chris Krich. "We weren't aggressive enough and it was tough for us to recover after that."
Miller added another field goal with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter to bring the game within a point, but Pomona-Pitzer responded with 10 unanswered to make it a two-score game. Miller split the uprights again with just over six minutes remaining to make the score to 31-23. After the Leo defense held the Sagehens to a three-and-out, the La Verne offensive unit marched 44 yards down the field to the Pomona-Pitzer five-yard line, but was unable to find the end zone and turned the ball over on downs to end the game.
"I give Pomona-Pitzer a lot of credit," said Krich. "They had an effective game plan for us and played a great game. We had too many mistakes."
Gomez went 17-for-35 in pass attempts with one touchdown. Senior running back Matthew Biggers had 18 carries for 79 yards while Sparks-Jackson had nine for 64 yards and one score. Senior Chad Lucas led the Leo wide receivers with six grabs for 69 yards with Lilly adding two catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Miller was a perfect 3-3 in field goal attempts.
The La Verne defensive forced three interceptions on the day. Senior linebacker Anthony Arguello again led the Leopards with eight tackles, including one and a half for loss. Junior safety David Kain totaled seven tackles with a forced fumbled and a pick.
The Leopards will return to the gridiron for a conference tilt with Chapman next Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.