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Lights Go Out for Cal Lutheran Again : College football: Halftime lead disappears quickly and Kingsmen fall to La Verne, 23-6.


THOUSAND OAKS — Joe Harper's got the right idea.

"I wish we could play at night," the Cal Lutheran football coach said, "somewhere where we could just pull the lights at halftime."

The Kingsmen might as well, because they have been falling asleep in the second half so far this season. It happened again Saturday, when they fell to La Verne, 23-6, in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game at Mt. Clef Stadium.

Cal Lutheran led, 6-3, at halftime, then played a second half that was so bad offensively, the numbers are hardly believable.

* The Kingsmen had a net loss of 26 yards in the half.

* They did not make a first down. In fact, they didn't get closer than seven yards from the first-down marker.

* Their first possession of the half began at their 31. They could not advance farther the rest of the game.

"I don't know what happened," Cal Lutheran tailback Terrence Thomas said, "but it's happened two weeks in a row."

Last week, the Kingsmen (1-3, 1-2 in the SCIAC) led Occidental, 17-13, in the fourth quarter, but lost, 19-17. They have been outscored, 78-33, in the second half this season. They have been ahead or tied at halftime of every game, yet have won only once.

The problem this week, as last week, was on the line of scrimmage. Cal Lutheran linemen simply couldn't keep the Leopards (4-0, 3-0) out of their backfield.

"I think a lack of consistency blocking is where our problem is and unless we can get that cured, we won't be a good offensive team," Harper said. "Yet we recognize we have to play within the limitations of the personnel we have."

Harper would not go so far as to say his linemen were physically overmatched, just that they were making too many physical and mental errors.

Quarterback Ryan Huisenga, who was sacked three times, said the team's problem was it failed to spread out the defense with passes, allowing La Verne to stack up on the run.

"They put about a million guys in the middle," Huisenga said. "I have confidence in our line, but they are being asked to do something that . . . is pretty hard."

The defense also was asked to do something difficult: stop La Verne's offense, which averaged 496 yards and 47 points a game and was ranked fifth in Division III.

But the defense held the Leopards to a field goal in the first half. And the Kingsmen went into the locker room with a 6-3 lead because of a 15-yard touchdown pass from Huisenga to Billy Parra in the second quarter. The extra-point kick sailed wide.

As it turned out, the 61 yards Cal Lutheran gained on that drive would be nearly half its game total of 128.

"We just stopped ourselves," Thomas said. "We do well in the first half then we just shoot ourselves in the foot."

While the offense struggled, it put the defense in precarious situations. Because the Kingsmen were usually punting out of their end zone, La Verne started five of seven second-half possessions in Cal Lutheran territory.

"It was tough," said linebacker Chris Peltonen, who had 16 tackles. "But that's our job, to hold them."

La Verne took a 10-6 lead on a one-yard dive by quarterback Ryan Campuzano with three minutes to play in the third quarter. Campuzano added another touchdown on a six-yard run with 10:46 to play in the game.

Running back Darren MacClellan, the leading rusher in the conference, scored on a five-yard run with 7:05 to play, putting the game well out of reach for Cal Lutheran's sputtering offense.

The matchup between MacClellan and Thomas, the top two rushers in the SCIAC, never materialized. Although Thomas had outgained MacClellan, 67-54, at halftime, MacClellan finished with a 205-68 advantage.

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