LA VERNE, Calif. — If you like offense, La Verne was the place to be on Saturday afternoon.
In a game that featured 14 touchdowns, over 1,300 yards of total offense and eight lead changes, Whitworth defended a 37-yard Hail Mary as time expired to hold onto a 50-48 win over the University of La Verne football team at Ortmayer Stadium in La Verne's home opener.
La Verne quarterback William Livingston threw for 469 yards and seven touchdowns, wide receiver Jon Lilly caught a school-record six touchdown passes and the back-and-forth shootout came down to the final drive.
Following Peterson's sixth touchdown pass that put Whitworth up 50-48 with 30 seconds remaining, Dallas Parent returned the ensuing kickoff to the La Verne 43-yard line to give the Leopards a final shot. And with how things unfolded until that point, it seemed like the last team with the ball would win and the Leopards had every reason to believe that they would come away with the victory.
Justin Gomez – who had to come in after Livingston was knocked out of the game on the first play of the drive – hit Lilly for a 20-yard gain to Whitworth 37. After an incomplete pass and three seconds remaining in the game, Gomez slung a Hail Mary pass to Lilly.
Incredibly, Lilly got both of his hands on the ball and seemed to come down with it. However, as the senior wideout came down, he was kicked in the side and the ball came lose, sealing the win for the Pirates.
Lilly was the star of the show. The Lake Elsinore native opened La Verne's scoring with a 40-yard reception on the Leopards' first possession and all of his six touchdowns either tied or gave the lead to La Verne.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Lilly blew past the Whitworth secondary for a 77-yard score. He added an 80-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter – again on the first play from scrimmage – and his 25-yard score gave the Leopards a 48-44 lead with 3:20 left.
But Whitworth quarterback Bryan Peterson had an answer for every La Verne score. He went 59 of 83 for 589 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions, breaking NCAA single-game records for completions in a game and most consecutive passes without an interception.
The numbers were simply staggering.
Lilly finished with 274 yards on eight receptions and Andres Fernandez hauled in 12 passes for 168 yards. Travis Sparks added 97 yards on the ground on just 10 carries and La Verne compiled 672 yards of total offense.
Peterson spread the ball around to eight different receivers and seven of them recorded at least 40 yards. Nick Kiourkas led the way for the Pirates receiving corps with 117 yards on eight grabs and Conner Williams was right behind at 101 yards on 12 catches. The Pirates finished with 651 yards of total offense.
Three different Leopards made at least 10 tackles. Preseason All-American Christian Lozon led all defenders with 16 tackles with one sack. Manuel Macias recorded 13 with a game-high two sacks and Carvante Hill registered 12.
La Verne gets a bye week before starting SCIAC action on Oct. 4 against Occidental.Follow La Verne Athletics on Twitter @ULV_Athletics Like La Verne Athletics on Facebook Follow La Verne Athletics on Instagram @ULV_Athletics Sign up for our newsletter