November 6, 2011

Balanced Attack Leads Leopards Past Sagehens

Claremont, Calif. – Matthew Biggers ran for 235 yards and a pair of long touchdowns in the first half as the La Verne Football team captured a 52-7 win over Pomona-Pitzer in the Sagehens' home finale on Saturday evening at Merritt Field.

With the loss, the Sagehens fall to 0-8 on the season, including 0-5 in the SCIAC. La Verne improves to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the SCIAC with the win.

Junior running back Luke Sweeney (Broken Arrow, Okla.) had 162 yards on 42 carries, but had a long run of just 16 yards as the Leopards made him work hard on every carry. His 162 yards did enable him to break the program record for rushing yards in a season with 1,277, passing the mark of 1,260 set by Jonathan Samples in 2005. 

Sweeney also extended his national rushing lead at the Division III level to over 20 yards, as he now averages 182.4 yards per game, while the second-place runner, Chris D'Andrea of Montclair State, slipped to 161 yards per game. The all-divisions leader, Jonas Randolph of Division II Mars Hill (193.1 ypg) was idle this weekend after running for 373 yards last week.

Senior Andre Shepley (Springfield, Mass. - pictured) had 15 tackles (eight solo) to lead the Sagehen defense on his Senior Day. Thomas Arguello had a big day passing for La Verne, completing 16-of-21 attempts for 232 yards and four touchdowns.

The first half was a case of missed opportunities for the Sagehens, who trailed 24-0 at the break despite having numerous good chances to score. Pomona-Pitzer had a dropped pass on fourth down on their first drive in La Verne territory, had a 26-yard touchdown run from Sweeney called back on a holding penalty, dropped another long pass at the two-yard line, and missed a 24-yard field goal.

Meanwhile, Biggers broke several tackles on both of his long touchdown runs, as two Sagehens had him wrapped up on his first scoring run, a 37-yarder with 1:10 left in the first quarter, which made it 14-0. The second time, he made a pair of tacklers miss in the open field and then absorbed the first hit at the seven-yard line before fighting his way into the end zone the rest of the way to make it 21-0 with 4:01 left in the half.

The second half saw the Leopards drive the length of the field off the kickoff and score on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Arguello to Matt Griffin. Christian Winnewisser then caught an 11-yard pass with 8:38 left in the third quarter, before Cedric Ho made a leaping one-handed grab in the end zone with 5:10 left in the third to stretch the lead to 45-0.

The game was the final home contest for the Sagehens, who honored their five seniors before the game, including starting linemen James Lambert (Mercer Island, Wash.) and Tim Stapenhorst (Fremont, Calif.), injured wide receiver Kareem Smedley (Ann Arbor, Mich.), fullback Zack Tannous (Millbrae, Calif.) and Shepley.

In addition to Shepley's big day defensively for the Sagehens, junior linebacker Justin Meng (Upland, Calif.) added 12 tackles. Arsian Erdinc had 12 tackles, an interception and a sack for the Leopards on defense.

Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Saturday when it closes out its season in its cross-street rivalry at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the annual "Peace Pipe Game" at 1 p.m.