The University of La Verne dropped its opening game of the 2008 season, battling defending Northwest Conference Champion Whitworth University to the very end before falling 22-13 to the Pirates Saturday at the Pine Bowl in Tacoma, Washington.
La Verne, which fell 38-0 to Whitworth a year ago, had a chance to pull within a point under two minutes to go. Down by nine, the Leopards reached the Pirate 31-yard line but could get no closer as Whitworth held on downs to seal the win.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Pirates scored twice within a three-minute span to grab a 15-0 lead, first on a five-yard TD pass from Kory Kemp to Joey VanHoomissen with 7:25 remaining in the second quarter, and converted on a Leopard fumble as Kemp once again connected with VanHoomissen in the end zone, this time from four yard outs at the 5:20 mark.
The Leopards finally struck late in the first half when Kemp was intercepted by Joe Padilla, who returned the ball 32 yards to the Whitworth 36 yard line. One third and goal from the Whitworth five, Anthony Andre passed to Phi Van Le for the touchdown. After the Leopards missed the PAT, Whitworth had a 15-6 lead at halftime.
The teams traded punts five times to open the second half. On the first play after Whitworth took over on its own 18 yard line, Kemp was intercepted by Taylor Hart at the 25. Four plays later Andre completed a 19 yard pass on fourth down to Fernando Gonzalez to pull La Verne within 15-13.
Whitworth closed the scoring in the fourth quarter, capping a 9-play, 59-yard drive on a four-yard scoring run by Adam Anderson to go up 22-13. Anderson finished with a game-high 158 yards on 33 carries.
La Verne amassed 229 yards on offense, 223 came through the air as quarterback Anthony Andre debuted with the Leopards by completing 17 of 30 attempts for 203 yards and two scores. On defense, Jason Carpenter led the Green and Orange with a game-high 16 tackles, including two for losses of three yards.
The Leos have a bye next week and enjoy their 2008 home opener Sept. 27 against fellow Northwest Conference opponent Willamette University.