La Verne's defense feeds on CMS; Allen has game-winning
October 9, 1998
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
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
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.