Some tough defense isn’t enough to stop a 21-9 loss to Whitworth.
Penalties and turnovers proved costly for the Leopards last Saturday, losing to the Whitworth Pirates, 21-9, at Ortmayer Stadium.
In its first game of the 2009 season, La Verne could not overcome its three interceptions and one fumble resulting in all 21 Pirate points.
“The penalties killed us,” senior quarterback Anthony Andre said.
“We were driving and then would get a penalty or we would be driving and turn the ball over.”
The Leopards and Pirates remained scoreless through the first quarter although Whitworth threatened to score late. On fourth down and goal on La Verne’s 1-yard line, the Leopards’ defense was able to stop Whitworth with a gang tackle that resulted in a change of possession.
“Our defense did really well today,” freshman running back Erek Brown said. “Everybody was running really hard on that side of the ball.”
The Leopards defense was led by junior defensive lineman Jorge Villagomez who registered eight tackles and one sack.
Whitworth scratched first after an Andrew Durant 15 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Scroggins to put the Pirates up, 7-0.
The score remained 7-0 until the fourth quarter when ULV’s Mike Castenada kicked a 34-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
After an interception by La Verne quarterback Christian Winnewisser, Whitworth was able to drive the ball down field resulting in a 3-yard touchdown run by Sean Scott, to increase its lead to 14-3.
Less than one minute later, another Winnewisser interception was returned for a touchdown to make the score 21-3 with 2:53 remaining in the game.
The Leopards answered back quickly with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Winnewisser to Brown. A miss extra point attempt left the Leopards in a 21-9 hole.
The Leopards were unable to recover its onside kick and Whitworth was able to knee the ball and secure the victory.
“Our biggest thing is to understand how important every play is,” head coach Andrew Ankeny said. “And that means we can not take any plays off on either side of the ball or the kicking game.”
La Verne’s offense tallied 322 yards, featuring Andre and Winnewisser in a a two-quarterback rotation.
Andre threw for 132 yards on 10-for-21 passing and Winnewisser went 8-for-14 with 111 yards and a touchdown.
The two quarterbacks shared time throughout the game until Andre was injured in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just a rotation thing for us,” Ankeny said. “If guys deserve to play then we are going to get them on the field and if that means two quarterbacks or one, it doesn’t matter to us.”
Andre’s hamstring injury does not seem serious and has been lingering throughout training camp.
“We call it ‘camp hammy’,” Andre said. “It has been acting up lately and I have been getting treatment for it. I will be fine.”
La Verne has a bye week and will not play until Sept. 26 at Willamette.
“The bye week is huge for us,” Ankeny said. “It gives us an opportunity to work on little things that took place today.”
“We are going to focus on how much we were able to get in the red zone,” Andre said. “We can build on that for next game.”
“We are going to practice hard in order to correct our mistakes today,” Brown said.
“It’s early in the season and we just need to come together for our next opponent.”
Kevin Garrity can be reached at email@example.com.