Homecoming for the football team Saturday was very welcoming as the Leopards walked away with a convincing 30-21 victory over Chapman.
In front of a crowd of about 1,097 people, the Leopards completely dominated the Panthers in almost all facets of the game and put on a display that they have not often shown over the past four years.
“I’m really happy to see that they played so well and looked like a team,” said Alfonso Moreno, junior psychology major.
La Verne accumulated 26 first downs, one through a penalty, 15 on the ground and 10 through the air while Chapman only converted 18 first downs.
Not only did the Leopards win the battle of first downs to allow them to keep the ball for a little less than two-thirds of the game, but they also established a strong running offense which kept the clock winding down throughout the game.
“We did a good job of controlling the ball,” head coach Chris Krich said.
Sophomore running back Matt Biggers in particular was a major force in Saturday’s win.
He completely dominated the ground game as Chapman found very few and ineffective ways of dealing with him.
Biggers ran for over half the team’s total with 154 yards in 33 tries with his longest run being 12 yards.
Along with a particularly strong ground attack, La Verne welcomed back senior quarterback Thomas Arguello who was coming off a one game hiatus.
Arguello played to his normal scrambling out-of-pocket style and chipped in on the team’s offense by running for 17 yards and throwing for 199 yards with one interception.
Senior wide receiver Matt Griffin emerged from a few quiet games to be Arguello’s preferred target against the Panthers.
Griffin caught seven passes for a total of 89 yards and one touchdown.
The game started in the worst possible way for the Leopards as 15 seconds into the game the Panthers got on the board with a 77 yard touchdown pass by senior quarterback Bret Visciglia.
“It was a big play. I saw the window and threw it,” Visciglia said.
The seven point lead for the Panthers was short lived as the Leopards put points on the board two minutes later by way of an Arguello pass to the always dangerous senior wide receiver Cedric Ho.
Krich opted for the two point conversion instead of the conventional point-after-touchdown kick.
It resulted in an Arguello interception throw that kept the Panthers up by one point through the end of the first quarter.
The Leopards came out ready to play in the second quarter and would score the only points of the quarter by way of a field goal from 40 yards out by sophomore kicker Alex Miller and a Josh Jones touchdown run from one yard out.
Jones got on the board again at the beginning of the third quarter with a one yard touchdown run, which gave the Leopards a dominating 23-7 lead.
That lead would look a lot less dominating by the end of the third quarter.
The Panthers were able to put up two touchdowns to cut the lead to 23-21 as they headed into the final quarter.
Junior running back Chad Milburn rushed in for two touchdowns to pull the Panthers back into contention.
Those Milburn touchdowns would prove to be no roadblock for the Leopards.
They put on a 15 play drive in the final quarter which ended in a Griffin touchdown to make the score 30-21.
The game would see no more touchdowns for the day and Leopards came out victorious for the second time this season.
La Verne now holds a 2-4 overall record and a 1-2 record in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
The Leopards, who currently reside in fifth place in SCIAC, will be in action again at 2 p.m. Saturday in Redlands, which sits in second place in the conference.
Kevin Parada can be reached at email@example.com.