YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

La Verne Returns to Field, Loses

November 03, 2002|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

If it were any other game, Coach Don Morel would have been bitterly disappointed with the outcome.

"A lot of coaches wouldn't be too excited about losing 33-to-whatever to a team that started the day 0-6," Morel said. "With all we've been through, I'm thrilled."

Morel's La Verne football team on Saturday played for the first time since Rollie Dykstra, the Leopards' starting senior quarterback, suffered a serious head injury when he was tackled in an Oct. 19 game against Redlands.

Whittier pounded the Leopards as Poet quarterback Mark Mejia threw four first-half touchdown passes and led the hosts to a 33-12 victory at Chief Newman Memorial Field.

Whittier improved to 1-6 overall, 1-2 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

La Verne (1-5, 0-4) didn't score until 14:35 remained in the fourth quarter. Running back Justin Wolfchief's touchdown came on a 10-yard carry. With 4:21 left in the game, Gabe Lujan, Dykstra's replacement at quarterback, tossed an eight-yard touchdown pass to receiver Michael Raffee.

"This was a tough game to play in, because Rollie's a good friend of mine," Lujan said. "It was one of those things where you just had to fight through a lot of the thoughts running through your head."

Lujan completed 13 of 22 passes for 197 yards. Two of his passes were intercepted. Lujan started the season as the Leopard quarterback, but two games ago moved to wide receiver in favor of Dykstra, a 24-year-old from Redlands who had last attended Florida A&M.

Dykstra remains comatose and in serious condition at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.

"We were thinking about other things in the first half -- Rollie, of course," offensive lineman Jacob Round said of the Leopards, who canceled their scheduled nonconference game against Azusa Pacific on Oct. 26. "In the second half, we paid attention to the task at hand."

Said Morel: "We think about Rollie Dykstra every minute of every day. Today, it was good just to play."

Los Angeles Times Articles