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Kingsmen Complete Home Improvement, 38-31

SCIAC: Cal Lutheran beats La Verne to finish first unbeaten season on its own field since 1982.

November 08, 1998|LAUREN PETERSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

THOUSAND OAKS — Make yourself at home.

Cal Lutheran football coaches have exhorted their players to do it all year long. The result was a perfect home season that the Kingsmen wrapped up with a 38-31 victory over La Verne in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game Saturday at Mt. Clef Stadium.

"We've made a point of emphasizing this," Coach Scott Squires said. "We're trying to build something here. We want to win here, and we want opponents to know that when they come in here, they're playing a team that doesn't lose here."

Cal Lutheran (5-3, 2-2 in conference play) finished with a 5-0 home record, the first time since 1982 the Kingsmen won every game on their home field.

It moved the Kingsmen into third place and assured them of a second consecutive winning season.

Cal Lutheran plays at Redlands (6-2, 3-1) in a season-ending SCIAC game next weekend. In contrast to their success at home, the Kingsmen are winless on the road.

Quarterback Zack Hernandez has come off the bench for the past month while sharing playing time with sophomore Nick Odenath in a quarterback rotation.

The senior came on in relief again with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the first quarter and rallied the Kingsmen from a 7-0 deficit.

Hernandez entered after Wayne Vaughn intercepted Odenath's pass and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown. Hernandez drove Cal Lutheran for a field goal and a touchdown on consecutive possessions in the second quarter to give the Kingsmen a 10-7 lead.

After La Verne (3-5, 2-3) scored to forge a 10-10 halftime tie, Hernandez guided the Kingsmen on consecutive third-quarter scoring drives that gave Cal Lutheran a 24-10 advantage.

Hernandez completed 11 of 21 passing for 123 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Each time La Verne cut into a deficit that was 14 points for most of the second half, he and the Kingsmen responded.

"This felt good," Hernandez said. "It hasn't been easy this year. Things haven't gone the way I hoped they would.

"But it really hit me the past three weeks or so that this is my last year, and I'm just trying to come out and do the best I can and leave everything out on the field."

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