Facing yet another nationally-ranked squad, the University of La Verne fell behind early against the University of Redlands, got within striking distance but ultimately dropped a 38-28 decision to the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Ted Runner Stadium.
Redlands, ranked No. 16 in the latest D3football.com Top 25 poll jumped out to a 14-0 lead before La Verne responded with a score midway through the second quarter.
The Leopards played uphill throughout, getting to within eight points of the Bulldogs but couldn't get any closer as they fell to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in SCIAC play.
Redlands (6-1, 4-1 SCIAC) went up 7-0 on an eight-play, 58-yard drive, as Bulldog quarterback Chad Hurst completed passes to Tyler Aubrey and Aaron Atkins for a combined 37 yards. The drive ended when Atkins hauled in a pass from Hurst for an 18-yard touchdown.
The two squads would trade touchdowns on the next four offensive possessions.
After gaining solid field positon, the next Redlands score came on a two-yard scamper from Hurst with 11:45 remaining in the second quarter to complete an eight-play, 47-yard drive for a 14-0 UR advantage.
La Verne countered by marching 76 yards on eight plays in just 2:27 for its first score. Leopard running back Josh Jones got the Leopards on the board with a 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 14-6 with 9:13 left in the second quarter. Travis Carter's pass on a two-point conversion try failed, leaving the Leopard deficit at eight points.
On the kickoff, Bulldog return man Taylor Irwin raced 49 yards to the Leopard 38-yard line. Redlands scored on the first play from scrimmage, when Hurst found Kyle Romero for the touchdown to extend the lead to 21-6.
The La Verne offense responded behind quarterback Thomas Arguello, who helped orchestrate a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive. The Leopards successfully moved the ball on the Bulldogs to the earn a first-and-goal at the Redlands 4-yard line. After three attempts, Jones scored his second touchdown from a yard out. Alex Miller's extra point pulled the Leos within eight at 21-13 with 5:16 remaining.
In the opening minute of the second half, Redlands went up 28-13 on a 63-yard run by Brad Crisanty. Eight minutes elapsed before the Leopards covered 77 yards on six plays, culminating on a third score from Jones, this time from four yards out, to again get within eight at 28-20.
The Bulldogs again padded their lead to double-digits with a 12-play, 69-yard drive that ended on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Hurst to Greyson Alman.
Redlands extended the lead to 18 points when Kevin Grady connected on a 41-yard field goal with 9:31 left in the contest.
La Verne continued to battle and eventually found the end zone to cap a nine-play, 85-yard drive. The Leopard score came on a trick play as Josh Ross took a pitch and lofted a pass into the hands of Oscar Bauman for the touchdown. The Leos added two points on a pass from Arguello to Matt Griffin.
For Redlands, Hurst finished with passing 173 yards three touchdowns on a 13-for-28 effort. Atkins led the Bulldogs in receiving with 47 yards on just three receptions.
Crisanty led the Bulldog rushing attack with 104 yards while Hurst added 70 yards on 13 attempts.
Arguello enjoyed one of his finest outings, amassing 357 yards through the air on 30-for-49 passing. Tight end Christian Winnewisser totaled 62 receiving yards on six catches.
Defensively, linebacker Fillip Marcelin led the Leopards in tackles with a game-high 14 stops on the day.
La Verne continues league action next week as it takes on Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont in a 7:00 pm start.