Leopards demolish two-time champs

Campus Times
September 24, 1999


by Brice Nixon
Sports Editor

Eighty-four seconds after holding Whittier College to three-and-out on its first possession, La Verne senior quarterback Dan Blahy hit senior receiver Rashard Magee on a 6-yard crossing route through the heart of the Poets' defense for a 7-0 lead.

That series also started a game-long pattern of Whittier punts or fumbles followed by La Verne touchdowns.

The Leopards scored three first-quarter touchdowns Saturday afternoon en route to a 45-0 demolishing of Whittier, improving their record to 2-0 overall and in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition.

For the second consecutive week, La Verne's defense was dominant against the run. The Leopards held Whittier to negative 41 yards rushing while allowing their opponent to gain just over 70 yards of total offense. ULV's defense also sacked Whittier's quarterbacks five times.

Junior running back Cameron Hurst rushed for 105 yards, including a 64-yard scoring run, in which he took a handoff from Blahy on a draw, sprinted past Whittier defenders and down the left sideline.

Hurst averaged almost 9 yards per carry to spearhead a ULV offense that amassed 206 yards on the ground, and 316 total, against a Whittier team that has won the conference championship two years running.

"We knew that if we were going to win conference, we were going to have to go through them," said Blahy. We knew that right off the bat, and we came out fired up. We played hard right from the beginning."

After senior cornerback Jovon Jiles intercepted Poets quarterback Nick Tomasello, ULV drove 51 yards and was first-and-goal at the 2 yard line. Senior running back Rickey Allen then scored the first of his two touchdowns after a great second effort got him over the goal line.

Then, on first-and-goal from the 5, with 3:24 left in the first quarter, Allen bulled over two Poets defenders to make the score 21-0.

Despite the Leopards' overwhelming margin of victory, both Blahy and head coach Don Morel stressed that La Verne has to continue working to improve.

"This was a great win and I hope we don't take it to our heads," said Blahy. "I hope we stay grounded and we come back ready to practice hard.

"That was one of our first goals, to beat Whittier, and we knew, to win conference, we were going to have to go through Whittier," he said. "They've won it the past two years. We did that, and we just have to keep focus," he said.

"It [the win] makes a statement for our game today," said Morel. "You have to play every conference game one at a time, and we still need to play the University of Redlands, Cal Lutheran University, and we need to play Claremont [-Mudd-Scripps].

"And those schools have good football teams, and they're not just going to lay down. We need to be ready to play them."

Morel was, however, impressed with his team's preparation for and performance against the Poets.

"We knew it was a big game, and we wanted to be prepared for it," he said. "I couldn't be happier with our team's preparation for the game. And then also the way they performed today. In all aspects of the game too. Special teams are really important to us and we did well on our special teams."

The Leopards limited Whittier to 15 yards on four punt returns and the Poets' best starting field position was at their own 37 yard line.

One problem that continues to plague ULV is the number of penalties it commits. The team reduced last week's 10 down to six, but Blahy said improvement is needed.

"It's something that we can't afford," he said. "We're a pretty good team, but penalties just set you back. It changes the whole complexion of the game."