Despite losing their first game of the season to Azusa Pacific, 59-14–in the first meeting of the two schools since 2003–the Leopards showed potential in what is to come for the rest of the season.
The Cougars came into Saturday night 1-0, beating the University of San Diego 42-14 in their first game last weekend putting up 481 total yards, 156 yards passing and 325 rushing yards.
The Leopards went into the game coming off a 0-9 season and the hoped they could start off this season with in a positive way.
“Our game plan was to establish the run first then bring in the passing game with mainly three-step drops, getting the ball out of my hands quickly to avoid getting sacked,” said junior, La Verne quarterback Josh Ross.
The Cougars scored first on a 34 yard pass from quarter back John Van Den Raadt to wide receiver Aaron Wall finishing off a three play, 40-yard touchdown drive.
The Leopards took advantage of a costly fumble at midfield by Cougars’ running back Johnell Murphy. As they went 39 yards in eight plays and finished it off with a 17 yard pass from Ross to junior wide receiver Matt Griffin for a touchdown, tying the score 7-7.
In the second quarter the Cougars scored 10 more points. First on a 62-yard pass from Van Den Raadt to wide receiver Ryan Chamberlin, and then a 30-yard field goal by kicker Chris Duke.
The Cougars had a 17-7 lead going into half time.
“I’m impressed with their attitude, even though they are down they have the attitude and the right state of mind to come back,” said Roger Moore, parent of Rydell Moore.
“The quarterback needs to take some shots down field, and stop playing scared,” Roger Moore said. “It seems like when he’s suppose to throw he doesn’t. We’re running the ball well and our defense is playing good enough to keep us in the game.”
In the second half the Cougars hit their stride, opening up the third quarter with a quick 54-yard touchdown pass from Van Den Raadt to Matt Davis.
The Cougars next drive was capped by a 56-yard run on a quarter back keeper play by Van Den Raadt.
La Verne would allow 35 unanswered points, and a total of 42 points in the second half.
The Leopards finally scored another touchdown on a 41-yard run by sophomore running back Erek Brown.
“We had too many three-and-outs on offense,” Ross said. “We needed to keep the ball longer to keep our defense off the field.”
Even in a loss like this the Leopards showed a lot of positives.
They showed that they could run the ball, carrying the ball for 135 yards and averaging 3.9 yards a carry.
On defense they showed their ability to force turnovers, inducing two fumbles, one by freshman linebacker Steven Donohue and the other by junior defensive lineman Chris Pace.
Many fans were impressed with their ability to pressure the quarterback and penetrate the line of scrimmage.
“I hope the team stays positive and their moral stays strong, because we all hope for a successful season,” Stephanie Alon junior liberal arts major said.
The Leopards hope to put this loss behind them, as they have two weeks to get ready for Division III powerhouse Linfield for their home opener at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Ortmayer Stadium.
Nolasco Pesina can be reached at email@example.com.