The football team ended its 2012 season on a winning note Saturday afternoon with a 36-24 defeat over Occidental at Ortmayer Stadium.
The Leopards closed out the season with a 4-3 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and 4-5 overall. The win gave the Leopards their first winning mark in conference play since 1999.
“It means a lot,” head coach Chris Krich said. “We had a lot riding on this game.”
The game was a constant battle between the two teams with the score going back and forth.
“We knew this was going to be a tough battle,” Krich said.
La Verne opened the game by marching 56 yards in 12 plays. The Leopards settled for a 22-yard field goal making the game 3-0.
That three-point advantage was short lived as the Tigers scored on their first play from scrimmage giving Occidental a 7-3 lead over the Leopards.
The Leopards and Tigers both traded field goals in the second quarter before sophomore quarterback Travis Carter made a three-yard run scoring for the Leopards putting the game at 13-10.
With 52 seconds left in the first half Occidental took back the lead.
Senior tight end Oscar Bauman closed out the half scoring for the Leopards in the last second.
La Verne ended the first half with a 20-17 advantage.
In the fifth minute of the second half junior wide receiver Alex Miller scored a field goal for the La Verne continuing a 23-17 lead for the Leopards.
Early in the fourth quarter Occidental drove 55 yards on 10 plays to score taking back the lead from the Leopards, making the game 24-23.
The Leopards trailed 24-23 in the fourth quarter before closing out the game with two touchdowns from junior running back Matthew Biggers.
The Leopards fired back on gaining possession and in just three plays covering 67 yards.
With 12:34 left in the quarter Biggers ran the ball 14 yards for a touchdown to give the Leopards a 29-24 lead. Biggers continued to bring the heat later in the fourth.
With nearly two minutes left in the game Biggers took a handoff from Carter making a thrilling 94-yard run down the field to get La Verne another touch down putting the game at 36-24, giving the Leopards a comfortable lead.
“The win meant a lot and it definitely sets the tone for next season,” junior offensive lineman Matthew Shinn said.
Carter finished the game with 155 yards on 17 of 23 passing with a touchdown.
“Now that the program is changing we’re ready to go out and get a championship,” Biggers said.
Taylor Perez-Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.