LA VERNE, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team stopped a two-game slide on Saturday evening with a 17-7 victory over the La Verne on the Leopards' Homecoming. The victory improves the Stags to 4-3 on the season and bumps them to 2-2 in the SCIAC. CMS attempted just 14 passes in the game, but used an effective ground attack and strong defense to earn the 10-point victory.
The Stags dominated possession on the afternoon, holding the football for 41:48 compared to just 18:12 for the Leopards.
CMS forced a fumble on the game's opening kickoff and promptly took advantage of the short field on a six-play, 27-yard drive that ended in a touchdown. Garrett Cheadle (HMC) gained all 27 yards on the drive with five carries. On fourth and one, Cheadle carried the ball for 14 yards down to the four-yard line. Two plays later, it was Cheadle again punching it in for the two-yard score. Even with the extra point being blocked, the Stags held a 6-0 lead just 3:18 into the game.
The La Verne answer was swift. After a 30-yard return on the ensuing kickoff put the Leopards near midfield, Matthew Simko found Jelahny Garnett for the 57-yard touchdown on the very next play from scrimmage. The Leopards converted their extra point and took a 7-6 lead just 18 seconds after the Stags opened the scoring.
The breakneck scoring pace over the first four minutes was not indicative of the remaining 56 minutes. Following the quick strike from the Leopards, the Stags scored 10 points spread out over the final three quarters while holding the home team scoreless.
Big defensive plays on both sides were to blame for the lack of scoring. With the Stags driving later in the first-quarter, Jose Aguero picked off a Jake Norville (CMC) pass and hustled 55 yards to the CMS 30-yard line. It looked as if La Verne would take advantage of the great field position, but Frankie Rayis (CMC) made a big tackle to stop a quarterback sneak on fourth and two on the 12-yard line.
In the second-quarter, it was special teams that set up the game's next score. Following another turnover on downs from the Leopards, CMS drove to the La Verne 38 and were on the edge of field goal range. The Stags chose to try and pin La Verne deep in their own territory. Robby Weissenfels (CMC) booted a beautiful ball that bounced out of bounce on the three-yard line. The very next play, Mitchell Allan (CMC) wrapped up Matt Holliday in the end zone for a safety and the Stags took the lead back at 8-7.
Late in the half, La Verne looked to take the lead back, but a 44-yard attempt was missed wide right and the Stags took the one-point lead into the locker room for halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Stags got on the board when Mitch Allan connected on a 43-yard field goal to cap off a seven-play, 20-yard drive. Jordan Leonard (CMC) set up the score with a 53-yard return on the second-half kickoff.
The Leopards and Stags traded punts through the rest of the third-quarter before CMS started to move the ball in the quarters final two minutes. Following a La Verne punt, CMS took over on their own 38 and quickly moved the ball into enemy territory with a 26-yard scamper by Jake Norville. The Stags continued to pound the rock, tallying seven more rushes on the drive. Spencer Sheff (CMC) ended the drive in the painted grass with a one-yard rush on second and goal. The touchdown gave the Stags a 17-7 lead with 13:35 remaining in the contest.
Geno Quaid (CMC) picked off a pass in the fourth-quarter to set up a field goal attempt, but the 44-yard attempt was unsuccessful.
After two more punts by La Verne, the Stags ran out the clock and secured the 17-7 victory.
In the game, the Stags ran a total of 72 offensive plays against just 48 for the Leopards.
As mentioned, the Stags move to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the SCIAC. Note that the Stags are now 2-2 in the conference. The victory over Occidental on Oct. 7 has been reassigned from a conference victory to a non-conference win as a result of Occidental cancelling the final five games of their season.
CMS will be back in action next Saturday when they travel to Chapman to take on the SCIAC-leading Panthers at 7:00 p.m. Chapman is 5-0 in the SCIAC with only their contest against the Stags remaining on the schedule.