The Leopard football team beat the Occidental Tigers, 30-21, in an away game to earn its first win of the season.
Rushing proved to be the key factor in the Leopards’ offense as senior quarterback Thomas Arguello, freshman running back Tanner Thompson and senior running back Matthew Biggers ran for more 300 yards collectively.
The Leopards got on the board early in the first quarter following a 76-yard drive to take a 6-0 lead.
The Tigers answered back quickly as senior quarterback Eric Collis found junior wide receiver Matthew Tuckness in the end zone. Occidental quickly tacked on an extra point to bring the score to 7-6.
La Verne scored again after a rushing touchdown from Thompson, but the Tigers refused to relinquish the lead easily as Collis threw to junior wide receiver Ryan Rodriguez following a 56-yard drive to bring the score to 14-13, in favor of Occidental.
However the Leopards would not be denied. Following a pass from Arguello to senior wide receiver Cedric Ho, La Verne performed a hook-and-ladder play that left Occidental dumbfounded when Ho pitched the ball to Matt Griffin, who hauled it in for a 25-yard touchdown.
At the end of the half, the Leopards led 20-14 and held the lead for the rest of the game.
The Leopards extended their lead in third quarter after sophomore kicker Alex Miller kicked a 27-yard field goal to bring the score to 23-14 in favor of La Verne.
The Tigers rallied when Collis once again hit Tuckness in the end zone to bring the game within two points.
But the La Verne defense stepped up. Collis faced constant pressure from the Leopards as they forced two interceptions and three fumbles from the Tigers and left them scoreless for the entire fourth quarter.
With two minutes left, a final 60-yard rush from Biggers clinched the game for the Leopards, bringing the score to 30-21 and giving the Leopards their first win over Occidental since 2002.
The Leopards will look to ride the momentum into their next game at 1 p.m. tomorrow against Cal Lutheran at home.
Julian Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.