LV Life Editor
The Leopard football team lost its first home game of the season against Menlo on Saturday, finishing 56-7 despite a full home crowd cheering.
The Leopards struggled mostly on defense, giving up seven touchdowns in four quarters.
However the offense also had some difficulties, turning over the ball four times, which included three interceptions by senior starting quarterback Brian Duboski and one fumble.
“Well it’s unfortunate,” Duboski said. “More than anything we have to eliminate our mistakes and move forward.”
In the first quarter, the Leopards fell behind quickly after Menlo scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff.
Menlo followed that with another touchdown minutes later when senior running back Thomas Reynolds broke off a 43-yard run.
“I think we put ourselves in a hole from the first play of the game,” head coach Chris Krich said. “We have to stay positive though and we have to learn from our mistakes.”
The Leopards were within six points of Menlo when Duboski completed a 3-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jon Lily, making the score 13-7 in the first quarter.
But Menlo quickly fired back with another touchdown from Reynolds.
“Our offensive tempo is off, and that killed us,” Lily said. “I think we need to focus on not getting down on ourselves when the other team scores. Normally our defense is stronger, but we need to be helping each other out.”
Lily finished with nine catches, while no other La Verne receiver had more than three catches.
Menlo’s defense kept La Verne from scoring the next three quarters, while its offense, led by junior starting quarterback Wade Hawkins, scored another five touchdowns before the end of the game.
Hawkins went 11-for-19 passing with 203 yards and four touchdowns.
By halftime Menlo was winning 36-7 after an 81-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jared Hakuole.
Hakuole had a solid game, with two touchdowns and 169 rushing yards, averaging 15.4 yards per carry.
Menlo finished the game with 390 rushing yards and 216 passing yards.
Menlo’s offense was explosive, Krich said, and now the Leopards are more prepared going into Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
“Our goals are still here,” coach Krich said. “We want a conference championship, and we have to use this game to see where are mistakes are and improve.”
Duboski played the majority of the game, going 16-for-34 passing with 161 yards and one touchdown.
“We had too many missed opportunities,” Duboski said. “I’m preparing now for conference and going back to the chalk board to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Although the Leopard defense struggled throughout the game, freshman safety Conner Truhitte stood out with seven tackles.
Senior linebacker Anthony Arguello had six tackles, and junior safety David Kain also had a solid effort with five tackles.
“We need to stay together as a team more,” Kain said. “Defense missed some plays and we need to come out with a better mindset.”
La Verne converted only six of 18 third down attempts and just two of seven fourth down attempts, while Menlo was 5-for-12 on third down attempts and 1-for-2 of fourth down.
Now the Leopards are looking forward to conference and trying to improve in all aspects, especially special teams, according to Krich.
“Everybody has a bad game, and I think that is what makes a good football program, but we want our offense to get more momentum,” Krich said.
A moment of silence was held before the kickoff in honor of sports information director Will Darity, who died Sept. 18.
Following its season opening win over Whitworth, La Verne has an overall record of 1-1.
The Leopards face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (1-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday for the first SCIAC game of the season.
Karleigh Neff can be reached at email@example.com.