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La Verne Surely Takes Care of Cal Lutheran

College football: Mistakes lead to early 38-point deficit and Kingsmen never recover, losing, 47-18.


THOUSAND OAKS — Some holes are bigger than others, and this was not one Cal Lutheran could dig out of.

The Kingsmen fell behind by 38 points in the first half and lost to La Verne, 47-18, in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game Saturday afternoon at Cal Lutheran.

La Verne (2-4, 2-2 in conference) ranked second in the SCIAC in defense and the Kingsmen ranked first in offense in the conference, ninth in the nation. They had scored 147 points the previous three games.

A maligned defense held La Verne to 120 yards fewer than its 514-yard average. However, a blocked punt and two early interceptions hurt Cal Lutheran (2-4, 0-2).

La Verne, which had scored 22 points in its last three games, took a 24-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the game.

"We got every possible break in the first half," La Verne Coach Don Morel said. "In 15 years of coaching, I've never seen one team get all the breaks like we did."

The Leopards began the game with a six-play, 81-yard drive, capped by Aaron Becker's 35-yard touchdown pass play to Tremaine Mayeaux. The Leopards forced a punt on the ensuing possession which De Andre O'Neal blocked. The ball was recovered at the Kingsmen one and Becker scored on a sneak on the next play.

After another Kingsmen three and out, the Leopards got a 24-yard field goal by Flynn Turner. Three plays later, Chris Oliver intercepted a Chris Czernek pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to give La Verne a 24-0 lead with 3:03 left in the first quarter.

The 24 points were the second-most first-quarter points allowed by Cal Lutheran in school history.

Another interception set up La Verne's fourth touchdown on the second play of the second quarter for a 31-0 lead.

After the Kingsmen were stopped on downs at the Leopard five, La Verne responded with 15-play, 95-yard scoring drive to take a 38-0 lead.

Ryan Geisler kicked a 25-yard field goal for the Kingsmen at the end of the first half.

Cal Lutheran, which defeated Menlo, 37-32, and lost to Azusa Pacific on the final play, 54-51, seemed emotionally drained.

"The last two weeks were very emotional," said Kingsmen Coach Scott Squires. "Our batteries are a little low, but you don't get too many chances to play league games. We didn't take advantage of it."

For Cal Lutheran, freshman cornerback Eddie Torres had two interceptions and receiver Jimmy Fox had a career-high nine receptions for 94 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown for the final score.

Czernek completed 23 of 44 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. Dorian Stitt had eight carries for 74 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Becker was 14 of 16 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He left before halftime after getting hit in the face.

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