Leopard football team takes first league loss

Leopard football team takes first league loss

REDLANDS- The University of La Verne football squad endured its first conference loss on the road versus Redlands University Saturday.

The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first with a game-opening nine-play, 81-yard drive. The Leopards were hampered by turnovers in the early going, but a blocked punt by junior wide receiver Andres Fernandez gave La Verne a short field that culminated with senior running back Matthew Biggers punching the ball in from one yard out with 8:53 to go in the second quarter. Redlands connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the closing minute of the first half to make the score 14-6.

The La Verne special teams provided another highlight reel play midway through the third quarter, with sophomore linebacker Matt Canlas blocking a Bulldog field goal attempt at the seven-yard line to keep the game within one score. The Leopard offense brought the ball deep into Redlands territory late in the fourth quarter, but was stood up on fourth-and goal from the one-yard line to turn the ball over on downs with 4:34 remaining. The ensuing Bulldog drive, an eight-play, 99-yard effort, gave them a 21-6 advantage with less than two minutes remaining.

"It was a back and forth battle," said coach Chris Krich. "Unfortunately in the end we weren't able to come up with the win." 

Senior signal-caller Justin Gomez completed eight of his 20 pass attempts for 77 yards while fellow senior quarterback Brian Duboski went 3-6 for 35 yards. Biggers ran 24 times for 74 yards and one score, while senior receiver John Lilly made four catches for 54 yards.

Redlands held an advantage in total offensive yards (384-215) and first downs (22-15). Both squads had a pair of turnovers. 

Senior linebacker Anthony Arguello stuffed the defensive stat sheet, racking up 19 total tackles in addition to one interception. 

"Anthony had a really nice game," said Krich. "And it doesn't show up on the box score, but Nick Gutierrez and Charles Bromberg played great on the defensive line."

The Leopards will look to recover on a road matchup with Pomona-Pitzer next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Claremont. 

"Pomona-Pitzer is another tough SCIAC opponent that we have to prepare for," said Krich. "You can't take days off in this conference."