Poets write off Leopards in opener

Campus Times
September 19, 1997

photo by Ryan Sones

Junior running back Ordel Williams finds an opening during the second quarter in the Leopards' season opener. ULV lost 34-13 to the Whittier Poets at Ortmayer Stadium last Saturday.

by Rob Strauss
Editorial Assistant

The last time the University of La Verne Leopards and the Whittier Poets met on opening day, Whittier walked away with a 28-7 victory. Nine years later, the Leopards have a new team and were hoping to change things around last Saturday. The game did not go their way, though, as turnovers and a stagnant offense helped to give Whittier a 34-13 victory over the Leopards at Ortmayer Stadium.

"I think it's really the first time in probably seven years where we just gave a football game away," said head coach Don Morel

The Leopards started off strong. Senior Ronnie Daniels broke up the Poets' opening drive with an interception to give the Leopards the ball at the 9-yard line. The Leopards were not able to reach the end zone and opted for a 21-yard field goal by sophomore Armando Hernandez to make the score 3-0.

Whittier was able to capitalize off of the next Leopard drive when senior running back Charles Allen was forced from the 20 back to the one-yard line where he fumbled. Whittier defensive back Scott Shraiberg recovered the ball in the end zone and the missed extra point made the score 6-3.

Whittier scored 14 in the second which raised the score to 20-3 at halftime.

La Verne was able to work their way down to the Whittier 17-yard line on their first drive of the second half. An interception by Whittier defensive back Angel Rivas stopped their chance of scoring. Whittier's next drive consisted of an 80-yard pass play from Steve Luce to Del Wills for a touchdown. A two point conversion made the score 28-3.

La Verne's next score did not come until the fourth quarter. A 31-yard field goal by Hernandez gave the Leopards a score of 6 next to Whittier's 34. The Leopards were able to get the ball back off of an onside kick. An 11-yard pass play from junior quarterback Brent Meier to senior wide receiver Ervie Barnes made the score 34-3, although it was too little too late.

Sophomore Gary Tessitore, the new starting quarterback, finished the game with 9 completions for 56 yards and three interceptions. Meier, the backup quarterback, fared a little better completing 6 passes for 60 yards though he was sacked three times. Morel says that the offensive line is one area that needs a big improvement.

"I think [Tessitore] struggled and part of that is on him," said Morel. "I don't think he was very well protected either and we've just got to get going in that area."

Tessitore agrees that he had a hard first game.

"There were a lot of things that were pretty terrible on the field," said Tessitore. "Myself, I played a really really horrible game."

This is La Verne's first loss to Whittier in at least nine years and puts them at 0-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play.

Morel says that he does plan to make some changes.

"We've got to make some personnel moves," said Morel. "We've got to find guys that really want to be out there playing, we have got to coach harder, and we have to study the ship."

The Leopards' next game is at Occidental tomorrow night at 7:30. Tessitore says that they will have to put the Whittier game behind them.

"We're just trying to get everybody in a positive attitude and just go out there and get us a win," said Tessitore.