Leopards cruise to homecoming football victory over Whittier

Leopards cruise to homecoming football victory over Whittier

The University of La Verne football squad notched a 41-27 win over Whittier College in front of a large homecoming crowd Saturday afternoon at Ortmayer Stadium.

The Leopards withstood a high-powered Whittier passing attack by forcing six turnovers on the day, including a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns.

"Turnovers were the biggest thing today," said coach Chris Krich. "We've been emphasizing attacking the ball in practice and we really executed that well."

Whittier scored 10 unanswered points before the Leo offense got on the board with 4:25 remaining in the second quarter. Sophomore defensive lineman Quinn Goldman blocked a Poet field goal attempt to spur a quick three-play drive capped by a 33-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Brian Duboski to junior wide receiver Andres Fernandez.

The Leopards struck again three minutes later when junior safety David Kain picked off Poet quarterback TJ Jordan and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown, giving La Verne a 14-10 advantage heading into halftime. 

The Leos opened the second half with another score, this time a Duboski 18-yard run to conclude an 11-play, 60-yard drive. Whittier brought it back within one score on their next possession before another pick-six by the La Verne defense, this time by sophomore linebacker Matt Canlas. The Poets connected on a field goal to bring the score to 28-20 heading into the fourth.

Less than a minute into the final quarter, Whittier nearly leveled with another touchdown pass, but a 96-yard kickoff return by freshman running back Dallas Parent for a touchdown put the Leopards back ahead by eight.

La Verne extended its lead to 41-27 after Keenan Wright recovered a muffed punt at the Poet 14-yard line to set up a three-yard touchdown run by senior Gustavo Viramontes.

"It was really a full team effort today," said Krich. "Our offense did a good job of taking care of the ball and we found some ways to score on defense and special teams."

Duboski completed nine of his 22 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown and also led the Leopards with 70 yards on the ground on nine attempts. Senior running back Matthew Biggers carried the ball 19 times for 47 yards. Fernandez hauled in two passes for 39 yards and one score.

The Leo offense totaled 254 total yards and controlled the ball for 25 minutes and 40 seconds. 

The defensive effort was led by Goldman with 10 total tackles, including three and a half for a loss and one forced fumble in addition to his blocked field goal. Senior linebacker Anthony Arguello also notched ten stops.

La Verne is slated for an away matchup with the University of Redlands next Saturday at 7 p.m.

"Redlands is always one of the tougher games of the year," said Krich. "We'll be going into their place on their homecoming, so it's going to high-energy. We just need to do what we do and the score will take care of itself."