La Verne's defense feeds on CMS; Allen has game-winning touchdown

Campus Times
October 9, 1998


by Greg MacDonald
Sports Editor

Coming off a 48-8 loss to Howard Payne, the University of La Verne football team was hungry for a victory.

Wait a minute, or were the Leopards just starving because they missed their team meal before Saturday's match-up with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) due to a fire in Davenport Dining Hall?

In one form or another, ULV received its meal with a 13-10 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) win over the Stags at Claremont.

The Leopards used junior running back Rickey Allen's 5-yard touchdown run with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter and combined it with a strong 60 minutes of defense, which allowed only 122 yards of offense to CMS, to improve to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in SCIAC.

"Our defense is playing great," ULV head coach Don Morel said. "Right now, we just struggle on offense week after week in various ways. The bottom line is-it's a win and we will take it."

La Verne's troubles on offense were evident for the first three quarters, as the Leopards managed just two field goals. And on the first play in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Dan Blahy fumbled a snap in his own end zone, which was recovered by the Stags' freshman defensive back Douglas Kidney for a touchdown.

Five minutes later, CMS returned the fumble favor, as Stags sophomore quarterback Max Woods was sacked by junior linebacker Mike Barreiro, forcing a fumble that was recovered by ULV junior nose guard Mike Perez at the CMS 22-yard line.

Four plays later, Allen scored the deciding touchdown for the Leopards.

When asked about his offense's ability to move the ball after CMS had taken the lead, Morel said, "I guess we need that kind of pressure to do anything."

The pressure to score is a madding thing for the ULV offense these days, but the kind of pressure the defense was putting on the Stags' offense resulted in numerous sacks and tackles for losses.

La Verne's defensive front tallied nine sacks, forced two fumbles, recovering one, and intercepted one pass. Barreiro led the way for the Leopards with four sacks, while junior defensive end Mike Merrill had three.

"Defensively, we did what we were supposed to do," Merrill said. "We made a few adjustments, [and] we were able to get penetration that helped out our secondary."

"It was the whole defense, it wasn't a single person," said sophomore nose guard Manny Rodriguez, who had one sack.

Although ULV's offense was not in sync for most of the game, Blahy still threw for 187 yards, completing 19 of 28 passes. He connected with junior wide receiver Andrew Woolsey eight times for 107 yards and junior wide receiver Kenny Fredeu eight times for 61 yards.

"In any type of situation, you are always going to be faced with adversity, and obviously Claremont's defense was ready to play tonight and our defense was as well," Woolsey said. "When things like that happen, you have to calm yourself down and take one step at a time. Offensively, we weren't on tonight, but we got going and came back and got the win. That's what is important."

Woolsey made two key grabs on the Leopards' touchdown drive, one for four yards and another for 15, which was good for a first down on a third-and-eight from the CMS 20-yard line.

"I realized that they were playing off. It took us, Dan and me, time to adjust," Woolsey said. "Eventually, we got it going and good things happened."

More good things will need to happen for La Verne, as the Leopards will take the field at Whittier College in a key SCIAC game tomorrow at 7 p.m.

ULV needs to find some way to score against the Poets, who, like the Leopards, have a strong defensive front. Aside from Blahy putting up numbers, senior running back Ordell Williams and Allen may see more action to balance the La Verne attack.

"We need to develop something on offense," Morel said. "We are putting way too much pressure on our defense."

La Verne does not get a break in emotional games, as the Leopards travel to Azusa Pacific University (APU) in two weeks.

The Cougars are a strong NAIA team, which has been winning in the final seconds of its games.

So La Verne may need more fourth quarter heroics at APU, and maybe tomorrow night at Whittier.