LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne football team fired on all cylinders to rout Whittier, 44-3, on Saturday afternoon at Ortmayer Stadium.
With Redlands losing to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the same day, La Verne is alone at the top of the SCIAC standings with a 3-0 SCIAC record and improves to 4-1 overall. Whittier falls to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the SCIAC.
La Verne was clicking on all aspects of the game. The Leopards thumped the Poets on the ground to the tune of 404 yards and three touchdowns, scored three more touchdowns through the air and held Whittier to just 163 yards of total offense.
The defense was especially impressive, putting together a complete effort after showing signs of excellence in spurts early in the year . The Leopards were all over the field making plays after big plays. The Leopards notched an incredible 12 tackles for loss of 54 yards, including three sacks.
"Our guys are still learning our defense," La Verne head coach Chris Krich said. "We should get better each week and we're excited about where we are. We're still making some mistakes we have to clean up but it will all come together in time."
Whittier never even got into the red zone. The closest the Poets got to La Verne's end zone was late in the fourth quarter when they got to the La Verne 25-yard line with the game all but decided. Whittier quarterback Joseph Anderson completed a pass to Brandon Takata on the ensuing 4th-and-4, but Keoni Colson came up with a big stop just before the first-down marker.
The Leopards overcame three lost fumbles in the first half to get out to a 13-3 halftime lead with the help of the defense. Isaiah Gueits sacked and knocked the ball loose from Anderson on the first drive of the game and the Leopards took over at the Whittier 12-yard line. Travis Sparks-Jackson rushed four times for 16 yards and La Verne quarterback William Livingston found Alex Villalobos going through the middle to get the Leopards on the board.
Livingston then hooked up with Alex Arellano down the right side late in the first half to give La Verne a two-possession lead.
Second half was all La Verne. Sparks-Jackson scored a 46-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage of the half and the Leopards wore down the Poets with three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Destin Cabatbat finished the game off by ripping off a 36-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds remaining in the game.
"We made some mistakes early and it hurt us," Krich said of the offense. "Part of that was mental mistakes and we were a little beat up inside. But we corrected the mistakes in the second half and we were able to win the ball game."
La Verne returns to action at Redlands next week at 7 p.m.