Homecoming Spoiled by Leopards 42-23

Homecoming Spoiled by Leopards 42-23

Photo by: Tony Leon/

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team looked to keep the momentum going after their 28-13 victory over Occidental College a week ago but couldn't get any momentum going during Homecoming Weekend as they fell 42-23 to the University of La Verne.

In front of a crowd of almost 2,000 strong, the Purple & Gold put together 305 yards of total offense (240 Passing/65 Rushing) and went 6-of-16 on third downs. 

The Poets were without starting quarterback Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.), who was out due to a knee injury forcing them to start Matthew Valencia (Commerce, Calif.).  Valencia went 17-for-29 for 164 yards with a long being of 26.  He also rushed ten times with a long being of eight, which included a touchdown scamper on a quarterback keeper late in the first quarter. 

La Verne found their ground game early scoring on their first two possessions from James Gonsalves and Matt Holliday.  This put the Poets in an early hole but they would bounce back going 50-yards in 10-plays, which included a 24-yard reception by Hakim Williams Jr. (Covina, Calif.) capped off with the one-yard keeper by Valencia.

Gonsalves and Holliday would find the end zone on La Verne's next two possessions in the second quarter moving the score to 28-6.  Cooper Allen (Visalia, Calif.) stopped the run converting a 25-yard field goal that ended an 11-play, 62-yard drive but WC still saw themselves trailing 28-9 at the break.

The Poets opened up the second half with an impressive series all set up by Zurie Clark (Upland, Calif.) who took the kickoff 35 yards to the WC40.  Valencia then led the offense down the field on 6-plays covering 3:11 going 3-for-4 for 40 yards, which included a 12-yard catch by Derek Jackson (Tulare, Calif.) and a 19-yard hookup for Brian Phelan (Chino Hills, Calif.).  All capped off by a three-yard touchdown run for Jovan Bea (Santee, Calif.).

After a three and out forced by the Poet defensive unit, Whittier got the ball back with 9:23 to play in the quarter.  They strung together an 18-play drive going 79-yards in 9:31 and got lucky at the very end.  Valencia was picked off in the endzone by Conner Johnson but as Johnson attempted to return the pick, he was stripped by Phelan who then landed on the ball for a Poet touchdown.  This cut the deficit to a one score game early in the fourth quarter but that's as close as Whittier would get as ULV would get two touchdown runs from Jonathan Jun and Gonsalves ont heir following two possessions that secured the road victory.

Alex Retana (Whittier, Calif.) was big in the backfield carrying 14 times for 44 yards.  Bea joined him with six carries for 31 yards averaging 5.2 yards per carry.  Williams Jr. hauled in four catches for 76 yards, averaging 19 yards per catch with a long being of 45, which came on a flea flicker thrown by Phelan down the far side line.  Phelan totaled 63 yards with a long being of 26 averaging 10.5 yards per catch and Moises Gonzalez (Long Beach, Calif.) added 3 catches for 30 yards.

On defense, Andrew Rosales (Pico Rivera, Calif.) finished with 10 tackles (8 solo/2 assisted) with Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV) adding 8 (6 solo/ 2 assisted).  Meda Mazon (Riverside, Calif.) registered six tackles and a tackle for a loss and Alfonzo Ibanez (Whittier, Calif.) added three tackles and three pass breakups.          

Whittier (1-4, 1-2 SCIAC) travels this Saturday, October 20 when they go to Pomona-Pitzer to take on the Sagehens beginning at 7:00pm.