TACOMA, Wash. — The University of La Verne football team showed signs of expected growing pains but gave itself a chance to win the game at the end.
But a couple of key plays cost the Leopards in a 31-29 defeat to Puget Sound on Saturday afternoon at Baker Stadium.
With the Leopards trailing, 31-23, La Verne quarterback Josh Evans completed a dramatic 4th-and-11 pass to Alex Arellano for a 53-yard touchdown with just 1:17 to go in the game. However, on the ensuing 2-point play, Evans had to recover a low snap and rushed a low pass to Arellano, who couldn't make the catch.
The Leopards narrowly lost the onside kick and Puget Sound was able to run the clock out for the win.
The 2-point attempt was necessitated by another key play earlier in the game. After getting off to a slow start, running back Dallas Parent found his footing in the second half and found the end zone on back-to-back drives to get the Leopards within 24-23 with 5:56 remaining in the game. But Puget Sound's Cooper Zurfluh found a gap on the left side on the ensuing PAT and got a clean block to keep the Loggers up.
Evans, who made his collegiate debut in the NCAA Championship game against St. Thomas (Minn.) last year, got the start and acquitted himself well. The sophomore finished with 229 yards and a touchdown and opened the scoring with a 35-yard scamper in the first quarter. He added 78 rushing yards.
Parent, who has stepped into the featured role with the graduation of Travis-Sparks Jackson, was held to just 28 yards in the first half but exploded for 121 yards in the second to finish with 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Matt Nishanian starred on defense, recording 10 tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery.
Puget Sound threatened to break the game open by forcing a safety and scoring consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the Leopards clawed back in it with some big plays by Evans, Arellano and Evans.
Puget Sound quarterback Hans Fortune was 27-for-51 with 228 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Wagner ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
The Leopards get a bye next week and host Whitworth on Sept. 17 for home opener.