SPOKANE, WA — The Leopards rushed for 131 yards, Josh Evans passed for 116 yards, but the Leopards couldn't find the back of the end zone, dropping their season opener to Whitworth 38-2.
The Leopards got on the board in the second quarter when returning All-SCIAC defensive lineman Austin Brown sacked quarterback Leif Ericksen in the end zone for a safety. Brown did damage behind the line of scrimmage, finishing with three tackles for losses.
The defensive unit forced three takeaways in the game, all in the second half. On Whitworth's first possession of the third quarter, junior linebacker Conner Johnson stuffed Mason Elms behind the line of scrimmage and forced the ball loose. Sophomore Andrew Camargo pounced on the ball for the takeaway.
On the Pirates' next possession, Raymond Moronez picked off quarterback Nick McGill at La Verne's one yard line.
Sophomore Dimone Backus added an interception of his own in the fourth, snatching a pass from Connor Johnson in Pirates' territory.
Evan's 96 yards came on 11 completions. He connected with Nathaniel Sagastume for a 34 yard completion midway through the second quarter. Sagastume led the Leopards' receiver with 95 receiving yards.
James Gonsalves led La Verne's ground attack, rushing for 64 yards with a long of 32.
Newcomer Jonathan Jun broke off a 36 yard run on La Verne's first drive of the fourth quarter in his only attempt of the game.
Next Game: The Leopards play their first home game of the season on Saturday, September 8 in an exhibition against the Centro de Enseñanza Técnica Y Superior Universidad (CETYS) from Mexico. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
CETYS is an academically elite, private, WASC accredited Mexican institution with a total of 7,600 students at three campuses in Tijuana, Mexicali, and Ensenada. They are in the middle of a multi-year process to join NCAA Division II and the California Collegiate Athletic Conference. La Verne competed against CETYS last season in baseball and this year in volleyball.
CETYS opens their season tonight in Mexicali against Occidental.