The University of La Verne football team successfully used each phase of its game to notch a 34-24 conference triumph over visiting Pomona-Pitzer on Homecoming Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.
The Leopards received touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams to help turn back the Sagehens and improve to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in SCIAC play.
Both the scores from defense and special teams proved instrumental in the Leopard victory. On offense, the Leopard utilized running back Matthew Biggers to spearhead the ground game, as the senior rushed for 188 yards on 40 carries and a touchdown.
Manuel Macias recorded the defensive score when he intercepted a Luke Ferguson pass and ran it back 41 yards for a touchdown with 8:25 to play in the contest for the final Leopard points to take a 34-17 lead. Pomona-Pitzer did get a late touchdown on a Grant Frazier 2 yard run but would not get any closer as the Leopards held on to secure a Homecoming victory for the second consecutive year.
La Verne scored first when it marched 58 yards in seven plays to the Pomona-Pitzer. When the drive stalled, Alex Miller booted a 24 yard field goal with 6:31 remaining in the opening period to give the Leos a 3-0 advantage.
Pomona-Pitzer would respond with a 9-play, 73-yard scoring drive, as it opened the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Luke Ferguson to Yoshi Rothman to slice the deficit to 10-7.
The second half opened strong for the Leopards, as La Verne's defense forced the Sagehens to punt, allowing Felipe Valdez to bob-and-weave past several would-be tacklers for a 69 yard return for a touchdown to push the lead to 17-7. Pomona-Pitzer would respond, and Ferguson found sophomore tight end Michael Etzel from 32 yards out to close the gap to 17-14 with 8:56 left.
La Verne, though, drove the length of the field in response. The Leos marched 69 yards on 11 plays, culminating in a two-yard touchdown run from Biggers to push the lead to 24-14 remaining.
The two teams would trade field goals, as Michael Weil's 33-yarder for Pomona-Pitzer make it a one possession game at 24-17. The Leopards then proceeded on a methodical 16-play, 73-yard drive which elapsed 6:13 off the clock. Though the Sagehens kept La Verne out of the end zone, Miller added three points with a 35 yard field goal to boost the lead to 27-17 with 9:54 left to play.
La Verne totaled 21 first downs on the day and finished with 336 yards of total offense.
The 188-yard effort from Biggers was his second-highest rushing total of the season. Carter passed for 166 yards completing 16 of his 23 attempts on the day. Andres Fernandes caught 7 passes for 57 yards to lead the Leopard receivers.
Ferguson threw for 211 yards for the Sagehens on 14-of-30 passing. Etzel finished with 103 receiving yards while Michael Schwartz was the team's leading ground gainer with 77 yards on 22 carries. On defense, Don Swan compiled a game-high 18 total tackles in the loss.
La Verne hits the road for its next two games, beginning with a trip to Orange next Saturday as it faces Chapman University in a 7:00 pm start.