Second Quarter Explosion Lifts No. 8 Kingsmen Past Leopards
A dominant and decisive second quarter by Cal Lutheran propelled the nation's eighth-ranked team to a 59-34 shootout over the University of La Verne to overshadow a record-setting performance from senior running back Matthew Biggers.
The two teams combined for 93 points and 1,118 total yards of offense in the contest as Biggers rushed for a school record 304 yards on 34 carries while also scoring three touchdowns in a losing effort.
Leading 7-0 after 15 minutes of play, Cal Lutheran (7-1, 6-0 SCIAC) demonstrated its prowess against the Leopards by scoring 31 points in the second quarter en route to a 38-0 lead at intermission.
Cal Lutheran quarterback Zach Shultis was 18-for-29 for four touchdowns while receiver Eric Rogers set a new school record in points in a career by catching seven passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns while also throwing for a 26-yard TD.
The duo of Shultis and Rogers each had a hand in three scores during the second quarter. Shultis connected with Pablo Torres for a 3-yard score early in the quarter before locking up with Rogers for two consecutive TD passes of 35 and 24 yards to take a 28-0 lead with 6:04 remaining before the half.
After a field goal of 29 yards from David Sandler, the Kingsmen reached the end zone yet again as Rogers showed off his passing skills with a 26-yard pass to Donald Senegal with one second remaining.
Biggers got the Leopards on the board on the first possession of the second half when he raced 63 yards to the end zone to cut the deficit to 38-6 at the 14:34 mark of the third quarter.
The Leopards received an interception from Donald Mull and proceeded on a 10-play, 85-yard drive for a second score. Biggers capped off the scoring drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to cut CLU's lead to 38-13.
Both teams would reach the end zone once more in the third quarter. Cal Lutheran's Ryan Zirbel scored on a 2-yard run and was answered by La Verne when quarterback Travis Carter connected with Christian Winnewisser for a 15-yard touchdown pass as the Leopards trailed 45-20 heading into the final 15 minutes.
Carter used his legs for La Verne's next score as he raced 66 yards for a touchdown with 5:59 left to play in the game. After recovering a Cal Lutheran fumble, Biggers scored on the very next play, reaching the end zone for a 13 yard TD to close within 18 at 52-34 with 4:12 remaining in the game.
CLU would get the final score of the game as it marched 44 yards on seven plays culminating in a 4-yard scoring run by Zirbel with 1:20 left.
Statistically, the Leopard outgained the Kingsmen 563-555 in total offense while also holdling a slight edge in time of possession. La Verne had the ball for 30:24 compared to 29:36 for the Leopards.
Biggers also went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season on his record setting night and now has 1,175 rushing yards with one game remaining. He currently stands No. 7 all-time on the Leopard career rushing charts.
Carter finished 10-for-18 for 120 yards with one TD and also rushed for over 100 yards with 127 on 15 carries.
The Kingsmen defense was anchored by Anthony Monroe who had a game-high 15 tackles with a sack for a loss of 4.0 yards. Dontaie Ferguson and Derrick Romo had 12 and 10 stops, respectively. For La Verne, Mull and Manuel Macias each had seven tackles with Mull adding an interception.
La Verne (3-5, 3-3 SCIAC) will conclude its 2012 campaign next Saturday as it plays host to Occidental College in a 1:00 pm kickoff at Ortmayer Stadium.