Football gets key stops, tops Pomona-Pitzer on Senior Day

LA VERNE, Calif. — Linebacker Kason Kennedy made two huge interceptions and the University of La Verne football team forced two turnovers on downs in the second half to hold off Pomona-Pitzer, 41-37, at Ortmayer Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

How it happened: Pomona-Pitzer moved the ball, amassing 670 yards of offense, but the Leopards made the stops when they needed them.

After La Verne took a 34-24 lead on an 11-yard reverse sweep for a touchdown by Alex Villalobos to open the second half, the Sagehens tried to catch the Leopards off guard on the ensuing possession with a fake punt. But La Verne snuffed it out to take over at the Pomona-Pitzer 34-yard line.

The defense came to the rescue once again after the Leopards could not take advantage of the field position as Pomona-Pitzer's Will Latta snagged an underthrown in the ball for an interception.

The Sagehens drove into the La Verne territory on a couple of big pass plays but La Verne safety Connor Truhitte defended a 4th-and-6 six to force a second turnover on downs.

Travis Sparks put the Leopards up for good with a four-yard touchdown run with 7:20 remaining in the game. The junior running back accounted for all 80-yards on that drive, which was highlighted by a 64-yard explosion up the middle.

It was over when: Kennedy came up with his second interception of the day with 2:33 left in the game as he jumped a route in the middle of the field.

Although the Sagehens got another opportunity to rally, they got only 40 seconds with which to work and had to pin their hopes on a last-second Hail Mary, which was denied.

Game ball goes to: Linebacker Kason Kennedy. Not only Kennedy essentially sealed the win his second-half interception, he made the first real stop of the game with his first pick in the second quarter. Up until Kennedy's interception, La Verne and Pomona-Pitzer had scored touchdowns on every possession to start the game.

Kennedy finished with two interceptions, three tackles and a pass break up.

Offense keeps rolling: The Leopards compiled 506 yards of total offense including 250 yards on the ground.

Quarterback Justin Gomez was 18-for-28 with 256 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

Sparks ran for 138 yards on 14 carries and Dallas Parent carried 12 times for 76 yards.

Jonathan Lilly led the receiving corps with 86 yards and a touchdown. Villalobos also caught a touchdown pass to go along with his rushing score and ended the day with 69 receiving yards. Ezra Broadus caught two passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.

What it means: La Verne picks up its first SCIAC win of the season and moves to 2-6 on the year. Pomona-Pitzer falls to 1-7 overall and 1-6 in SCIAC play.

Senior Day: Before the game, La Verne celebrated the careers of its 14 seniors with a brief ceremony.

Track stars honored: Six La Verne track standouts and sprints coach Gary Rudin were honored at halftime. National champions James Francis; Nick Gonsalves, Robert Oshodin; Chancise Watkins; Paul Turner; and Lenore Moreno were recognized for the innumerable accolades and accomplishments.

Up Next: La Verne travels to Cal Lutheran next Saturday for the final game of the 2014 season. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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