LA VERNE- The University of La Verne football squad gashed conference rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for 361 rushing yards in a 30-6 win Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.
Scoring was scarce in the first half, but the Leopards got on the board with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter courtesy of a 50-yard interception return by junior defensive lineman Jhovany Bautista.
"Jhovany made a circus catch to get the ball," said coach Chris Krich. "That was a big play for us."
A blocked field goal by junior safety Ky Dorsey to open the second quarter provided a defensive highlight and would keep the score at 7-0 heading into the break.
"We were struggling to move the ball in the first half," said Krich. "It was a defensive battle."
"We came out with a little different look in the second half," said Krich. "Michael is our wildcat quarterback and we were able to get their defense off balance."
Senior kicker Alex Miller added a 24-yard field goal with 5:09 left in the third to make the score 17-0 heading into the final frame. La Verne added to their lead with their first possession of the fourth, a clock-eating 14-play drive that saw freshman running back Michael Shepherd reach the paydirt. A blocked punt returned for a CMS touchdown with 6:06 left in the contest ended the Leopard shutout. Senior tailback Matthew Biggers wrapped up the scoring when he found the end zone with 3:17 remaining after an eight-play, 49 yard drive.
"We pounded the ball after the break," said Krich. "It was nice to see our offense move so well."
The two-headed Leo rushing attack was conducted primarily by sophomore Travis Sparks-Jackson and Biggers, gaining 180 and 111 yards respectively on a combined 48 carries. The offense averaged 5.5 yards per rush on 66 total attempts. Four Leopard quarterbacks combined for 97 passing yards on 15 attempts and seven completions, while senior wideout John Lilly led the receiving corps with 39 yards on two grabs.
Sophomore defensive lineman Quinn Goldman tallied nine tackles to lead the La Verne defensive effort, while senior linebacker Anthony Arguello and sophomore linebacker Matt Canlas had seven apiece. The Leos forced a season-high four turnovers with a pair of fumble recoveries and interceptions.
La Verne improved to 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in league play while CMS dropped to 1-2 and 0-1 in the SCIAC.
La Verne will host conference foe Whittier next Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m.
"Every week in the SCIAC is a battle," said Krich. "Whittier has a great football team and we'll work hard to be ready them."