LA VERNE, Calif. — Quarterback Josh Evans had a coming out party in front a raucous home crowd 1,496, rushing for 239 yards and three touchdowns and passing for 156 yards and two more scores in the La Verne football team's home opener against Whitworth.
But the Leopards conceded too many big plays late and lost, 48-42, on Saturday afternoon at Ortmayer Stadium.
Evans took an option keeper to the house for a 90-yard touchdown with 2:53 left in the third quarter for La Verne's third unaswered touchdown and gave the Leopards a 42-32 lead.
But Whitworth's Rehn Riley converted a 38-yard field goal on its next drive to stop the bleeding and the Leopards' offense stalled. The Pirates forced three punts and a turnover on the next four La Verne offensive possessions and used big pass plays to get back in the game.
Ian Kolste hit Garrett McKay for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 6:02 remaining in the game to tie the game at 42-42 and the duo hooked up again for a crucial 3rd-and-6 on the Pirates' next drive to set up the winning score. And Duke DeGaetano punched in a two-yard score to give the Pirates a 48-42 lead with just 23 seconds left.
Riley flubbed the point-after attempt to make things a little interesting but there just wasn't enough time on the board for the Leopards.
Evans took full advantage of the new playbook designed around his ability to make plays with his feet and gashed the Pirates' defense with a big run after another. He racked up 239 yards on the ground on just 14 carries and recorded seven runs of 10 or more yards.
The sophomore from Martinez, California, opened La Verne's scoring with a 45-yard scoring run and kept the defense honest with back-to-back touchdown tosses early in the second quarter to put the Leopards up, 21-18.
Evans's backfield mate Dallas Parent was also impressive. Parent gained an incredible 244 yards on 32 carries and scored on an 11-yard scamper late in the first half to give the Leopards a 32-28 lead heading into the break.
Kolste finished the day 40-for-59 for 502 yards and three touchdowns for Whitworth. McKay and Chase Naccarato each had 139 receiving yards. DeGaetano finished with 90 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
The Leopards get a bye before beginning SCIAC title defense on Oct. 1 at Cal Lutheran.