Leopards lose home opener 44-0

University of La Verne football coach Andy Ankeny wanted to challenge his team. So instead of scheduling a cream puff or two for nonconference games, he thought big.

The Leopards lost their opener two weeks ago to Northwest Conference champion Whitworth (Wash.). Saturday they faced No. 25 Willamette, another team from that conference. The result was a 44-0 loss Saturday afternoon at Ortmayer Stadium.

The second-year coach doesn’t regret that strategy, even though his team is coming off a 1-8 showing in 2007.

“I want to see where we are as a program,” he said. “It’s not about where we are Monday when we’re getting ready for Redlands. It’s about what we want our program to look like long term.”

The game got away from the Leopards (0-2) in the third quarter. They only trailed 14-0 at the half with an interception by La Verne’s Taylor Hart in the end zone on the last play of the half preventing another Bearcats score.

But the Leopards got off to a slow start and were forced to punt from deep in their own territory on their first possession in the second half. Jason Carpenter’s punt was blocked by Harmon Bruno and went out of the end zone for a safety, making it 16-0.

The Bearcats (4-0) set up at the 41 after Jose Green returned the free kick. The visitors capitalized on the next play as Deon Horne raced the distance for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to extend the lead to 23-0.

The Leopards were not in striking distance again.

Willliamette, located in Salem, Ore., put up 21 more points in the final quarter. It was headed for more with the ball in the closing minute at the La Verne 16 but coach Mark Speckman had his quarterback take a knee.

Willamette tallied 506 yards offense, 329 of that coming on the ground. Horne rushed for 129 to lead that effort.

La Verne managed 216 with 149 of that coming through the air. The Leopards rushed for only 67 yards on 39 tries. Their running game struggled last week as well.

Special teams were also a problem with two punts blocked.

Hart led the derfense with nine tackles, the interceptions and a pass breakup. Carpenter had six tackles .

It won’t get any easier next week as Redlands (2-0), ranked in three national polls the highest being a No. 19, comes in for a 1 p.m. game that will be the first in SCIAC play for both.

“I believe we’re a better team than what we showed today,” Ankeny said. “They outperformed us in every area and played with a greater sense of urgency. I really don’t want to have that many more of these teaching moments.”

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Cal State volleyball team might need to lose

It’s hard to run the table – in any sport. The USC football team found that out Thursday night.

So here sits the Cal State volleyball team at 12-0. Like the Trojans, the Coyotes are No. 1 in the country in their sport. The Coyotes have not been forced to five sets yet and have given up just four games in 12 matches.

The Coyotes trek down to UC San Diego tonight for a showdown with their bitter rival. They then return home on Saturday to face NAIA power Cal Baptist. That’s a tough back-to-back.

UC San Diego might be the easiest of the two just because it is the first. And its a conference match so it is more important. The Coyotes will have no trouble getting up for that match in the typically hostile environment.

It will be interesting to see how they come out the next night against the Lancers. A loss wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s a nonconference match and its an NAIA foe so it likely wouldn’t even hurt their national ranking.

A loss also lets the team know it is not invincible. Teams always get hungrier after being dealt a loss. And better now than later when it really matters!

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SBVC and Victor Valley get set for conference opener

The San Bernardino Valley College and Victor Valley College football teams were beat up and abused by foes from the stronger National Division for the last three weeks.

Now they get to take on opponents in the same boat. The two open American Division Mountain Conference play against each other at 1 p.m. in Victorville Saturday.

That means one team will stop the bleeding while the other will continue its freefall.

Both SBVC coach Pat Meech and Victor Valley coach Dave Hoover have been critical of the new scheduling and conference alignments that have the perceived weaker teams playing the power teams first in nonconference.

Overall the weaker teams went a cumulative of 6-42 against the big boys. The Rams are coming off a 73-13 shellacking by Mt. SAC while the Wolverines were thumped by Saddleback 69-14.

“It’s like going out and playing USC every week when you’re San Jose,” Meech said. “You don’t stand much of a chance.”

“I don’t see what good it does anyone,” adds Hoover. “We didn’t benefit by playing those teams and they certainly didn’t get better by playing us.”

Victor Valley started its season by playing Riverside, Palomar and Mt. SAC – teams ranked 25th, 11th and first in the state respectively.

SBVC also played Riverside but also faced No. 14 Desert and No. 17 Saddleback.
The Rams were more competitive, at least staying close for a half in their first two games.

SBVC has been manhandled by a cumulative score of 154-41 with most of its points coming at garbage time. It also has a losing streak of eight games that includes the last five games of 2007.

“We’re definitely in need of something positive to build on,” Meech said. “But I can’t fault the effort. Our guys are showing up every single day and working hard. They just haven’t had much to show for it.”

The plight of the teams shows up in the statistics columns. In scoring offense Victor ranks 27th (14.7 ppg) while SBVC is 28th (13.7) of 37 teams. In scoring defense the Rams are 34th (47 ppg) while SBVC is 36th (51.3 ppg).

The Rams are a lofty sixth in passing offense (254.9 ypg) thanks to the effort of freshman quarterback O’Ryan Bradley but are just 29th in rushing (72.3 ypg).

SBVC is 27th in passing (158.7) and 35th in rushing (20.7).

The two teams are close defensively with the Rams 29th against the run (217.7) and 17th against the pass (195.3) while the Wolverines are 35th against the run (268.7) and 18th against the pass (198.3)

“In the past to win our conference you had to go undefeated so losing the first game really puts you behind the eight-ball,” Hoover said. “It’s a little different now. No one knows how this is going to play out but both of us really need a win.”

It is a relatively light schedule for the local colleges. Chaffey (3-0) heads to Grossmont (1-2) for a 1 p.m. contest against the former Foothill Conference juggernaut.

But the University of Redlands, which is ranked in three national polls, is idle along with Pomona-Pitzer (1-1) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (1-1).

La Verne (0-1) will host Willamette (Ore.) at 1 p.m.

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