5 Things to Know: Football vs. Whitworth

5 Things to Know: Football vs. Whitworth

Here is what you need to know before the Leopards host Whitworth for home opener on Saturday.

1) This is the fourth season in a row the two teams are facing off against each other. The Pirates are holding a 2-1 advantage in the latest series and beat the Leopards, 39-20, in Spokane, Washington, last year. The Leopards found themselves in a 39-0 hole at the half, but turned up the intensity in the second half and used it as a springboard to a championship season.

The Pirates return their top passer (Ian Kolste), top rusher (Griffin Hare) and top receiver (Kevin Thomas) from the last year's matchup.

2) If there was any doubt whether Dallas Parent could handle lead running back duties, the senior erased it against Puget Sound on Sept. 3. The Fullerton native carried the ball 30 times for 149 yards and two scores and remained dangerous on special teams, returning three kickoffs for an average of 18.3 yards.

Parent was held in check on the ground in the last year's matchup, but made his presence felt with a 90-yard punt return touchdown and returned three kickoffs for a total of 42 yards. He also completed a 35-yard pass on a trick play.

3) It's early, but La Verne ranks second in the nation in defensive third down conversion percentage at 14.3 percent after holding Puget Sound to just 2-of-14 on its third down attempts.

But the Leopards have to limit big plays on the ground. Puget Sound's Austin Wagner ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries and recorded six rushes of 10 or more yards.

4) La Verne quarterback Josh Evans showed he can be a true dual threat. The sophomore signal caller passed for 229 yards and a touchdown on 29 attempts and rushed for 78 yards and a score on just nine carries.

Evans's ability make plays with his feet could prove pivotal against Whitworth. In its season-opening loss to Central, the Pirates defense showed its vulnerability to quarterbacks who can throw and run the ball. Central quarterbacks Riley Gray and Nate Boland combined for 406 yards and five touchdowns through the air and 96 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

5) The Leopards starting linebacking corps underwent a makeover to get more speed and athleticism on the field and it paid off against Puget Sound. Loggers quarterback Hans Fortune threw for 228 yards but it came on a whopping 51 attemps and the Leopards forced 24 incompletions. Junior transfer cornerback James Ferraro broke up three passes and the Leopards had 11 total pass breakups as a team.