Defense Leads Leopards Past Tigers

Defense Leads Leopards Past Tigers

Photo by Dennis Putian

LOS ANGELES — The Leopards intercepted the Tigers five times, Sam Taylor had a standout game through the air, and the University of La Verne football team picked up a 27-20 road win against Occidental College Saturday afternoon.

Season Impact

The Leopards get back to .500 overall with a 4-4 record and regain a winning record in the SCIAC at 3-2. Occidental falls to 0-6 overall and 0-5 in the SCIAC.

Defensive Standouts

La Verne created havoc for Occidental quarterback Joshua Greaves. The Leopards picked him off on three of four possessions to open the second quarter. La Verne added a pair of interceptions in the third quarter to help stop the Tigers' comeback attempt.

Raymond Moronez led the defensive effort with a pair of interceptions, one pass breakup, three tackles, and one tackle for a loss. The junior ended the Tigers' attempt to cut the deficit at the half when he picked off Greaves at the 50-yard line with just 31 seconds left to play in the period.

He grabbed his second takeaway of the game on the Tigers' first drive of the fourth quarter. 

Senior leader Conner Johnson had another big game, totaling six tackles and one interception. The Tracy, CA native picked off Greaves early in the second half and returned the interception 19 yards.

Mason Montanez added the first interception of his career in the win. The freshman has taken big strides in recent games and helped his unit with seven solo tackles, and two pass breakups.

Linebacker Cameron Mooneyhan grabbed his second interception of the season and added five tackles including one for a loss.

Robert Franklin finished with seven solo tackles. Derek Guzman had a big game with five solo tackles including two for a loss and a breakup.

Arturo Herrera-Caballero continued to show why he's one of the best punters in the nation. He averaged 40 yards a kick with a long of 46 yards and landed two inside the 20-yard line. He helped extend the Leopards' drive when he converted a fourth and seven on a fake punt with a seven-yard completion to Kevin Stark. Herrera-Caballero currently ranks 11th in the nation with an average of 41.6 yards a punt.

Offensive Standouts

Taylor had one of his best showings as a Leopard, passing for a career-high 221 yards with three touchdowns. The senior connected on a 19-yard strike to Grayson Kline to give the Leopards the 7-0 lead just over a minute into the game. Kline grabbed the pass in the flat and made a trio of defenders miss before making his way into the endzone. Taylor went a perfect 4-4 on the opening drive.

He added his other two touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to end the first quarter and open the second. The first was on a 10-yard pitch and catch to a wide-open James Gonsalves on a wheel route down the sideline, and the second on the longest play of the game, a 49 yard-throw to slot receiver Nathaniel Sagastume who beat the man-to-man coverage to put La Verne up 21-3.

Mason Thomas led the Leopards with 57 receiving yards on two catches. Kline finished with three catches for 35 yards.

Diego Garcia kicked a pair of field goals including a 41 yarder and was a perfect 3-3 on PATs.

Next Game

The Leopards return home next Saturday with an exciting matchup against Cal Lutheran. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. 

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