WHITTIER, CA — The Leopards scored on their first four possessions, they added two fourth quarter touchdowns, and the University of La Verne football team spoiled Whittier College's homecoming, beating the Poets 42-23 Saturday night.
The Leopards did their damage on the ground with James Gonsalves and Martaveous Holliday both passing the century mark. Gonsalves rushed for 182 with three touchdowns on 18 carries. Holliday totaled 113 rushing yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Diego Garcia was perfect in the game, converting all six of his extra point attempts.
Quarterback Mathew Valencia led Whittier with 164 passing yards. Hakim Williams Jr finished with 76 receiving yards on four receptions.
Conner Johnson had a beast of a night defensively. The senior finished with one interception, half a sack, one and a half tackles for losses, and eight tackles, seven of them solo.
Andrew Rosales totaled 10 tackles for the Poets. Alfonzo Ibanez added three pass breakups.
How it Happened
La Verne jumped on the Poets early, scoring on its first four drives of the game.
On third and twelve during the Leopards' opening possession, Evans connected with Nathaniel Sagastume for a 17 yard gain to keep the drive going. It was all Gonsalves from there, rushing for 12 yards on first down, then scampering for 41 yards to the house on the next play to put La Verne up 7-0.
After the Leopards forced a three and out on Whittier's ensuing drive, La Verne went right back to work. The Leopards put together a 13 yard drive highlighted by runs from Gonsalves and Holliday. On second and goal from the six, Holliday rushed past the goal line to give his squad the two touchdown lead.
The Poets threatened to make it a game after Valencia rushed for a one yard score to make it a one-possession game. But the Leopards' offensive unit kept rolling, this time going 72 yards in nine plays capped by a Gonsalves one yard run.
Holliday scored his second touchdown of the game the next time a La Verne got the ball on a rush from 14 yards out.
Whittier came out the break charging. The Poets scored on their opening possession of second half and then caught a break on their next drive. Set up on the Leopards' six yard line, Johnson picked off Valencia's pass in the end zone. But receiver Brian Phelan forced a fumble and jumped on the ball for a Whittier touchdown. The extra point cut La Verne's lead to 28-23.
But La Verne pulled back ahead in the fourth. On a key third an nine, Evans found Grayson Kline for a 15 yard completion to keep the drive alive. It was Jun and Elijah Washington taking the ball down the field from there, ending in a Jun five yard touchdown run.
Gonsalves scored his third touchdown of the game on a 32 yard rush.
By The Numbers
The Leopards outgained the Poets by more than 100 yards in the game. La Verne totaled 450 yards, 390 coming on the ground. Whitter finished 305 yards.
La Verne's defense held the Poets to just 65 yards on the ground. The Leopards' defensive unit also forced four sacks.
The Leopards improve to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in SCIAC play. Whittier falls to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the conference.
The Leopards return home to face the Redlands Bulldogs on Saturday, October 20 at 1 p.m.
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