LA VERNE, Calif. — Travis Sparks-Jackson and Dallas Parent combined for 372 yards on the ground and six touchdowns to lead the University of La Verne football team past Occidental, 48-27, on Saturday night at Jack Kemp Stadium.
Sparks-Jackson accounted for 210 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries. Parent piled up 162 yards and found the paydirt twice in just 16 carries.
La Verne's running back duo was simply unstoppable.
Sparks-Jackson set the tone with a one-yard touchdown after Matt Nishanian forced a fumble from Oxy's Cordell Harris on the first kickoff return of the game.
Then with the Leopards nursing a 15-13 in the third quarter, Matt Canlas forced another fumble from Harris and Sparks-Jackson put some daylight between the teams with a 44-yard touchdown run on La Verne's ensuing drive.
Harris atoned for his mistakes for a five-yard touchdown reception at the end of the third quarter to get the Tigers within 22-20, but Parent and the Leopards swung right back. Parent returned the kickoff for 20 yards and gashed the Tigers' defense with runs of 19- and 9-yards to get inside Oxy's 40. Parent then took his next carry to the house for a 39-yard touchdown, giving the Leopards a 28-20 lead.
La Verne's defense then forced Oxy into a three-and-out and Sparks-Jackson punched in a three-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession to give the Leopards a two-possession lead.
Running as well as it did, it was all La Verne needed to notch its first win over the Tigers since 2012.
The Tigers cut the lead to 35-27 on a quarterback sneak with just under nine minutes ago, but the Leopard defense stood its ground the rest of the way and Sparks-Jackson and Parent wore out Oxy's defense for two more scores down the stretch.
Through three games, Sparks-Jackson has 487 rushing yards (162.3 per game) while Parent has 229.
As if scoring a touchdown off a fumble on the opening kickoff weren't enough put the Tigers on the heels, La Verne elected to go for two after the touchdown and Zachary Tomlinson ran it in to give the Leopards an 8-0 lead, further throwing off Oxy's gameplan.
This forced Oxy to go for two after its first touchdown, which came on the following possession, and the Leopards turned away Kwame Do to hold for an early advantage.
Livingston, who is a game changer in his own right, did not have to do much with his arm tonight and finished with 116 yards and one touchdown. Arellano led the receivers with 81 yards.
La Verne's defense made big plays all over the place as well. The Leopards notched nine tackles for loss and forced three fumbles, two of which it recovered. Connor Truhitte led the way with eight total tackles and Michael Shepherd had two sacks.
Oxy quarterback Bryan Scott went 28-for-44 with 303 yards and two touchdowns.
Do finished with 231 yards of total offense and scored one touchdown.
La Verne hosts Claremont-Mudd-Scripps next week for the annual homecoming game. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.