LOS ANGELES — The Occidental football team made a push in the second half, but came up a Hail Mary short of a victory against La Verne in a 27-20 loss at Jack Kemp Stadium on Saturday.
Oxy was the better team after halftime, outscoring the Leopards 14-6 in the final 30 minutes.
Following a ULV field goal with 9:46 left to play in the third quarter that put them up 24-6, the Tigers worked their way slowly back into the game. Oxy capiltalized on a 58-yard punt return by John Isaac Cordova that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Ben Rosen at the end of the third quarter, and then after another ULV field goal, Joshua Greaves hit Andrew Jack de Avila in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass that cut the score to 27-20 with 4 minutes to go in the fourth.
Oxy's defense, which played well all game, forced a three-and-out, giving the Tigers the ball back with 3 minutes to play.
The Tigers converted on a few key plays, but had precious time come off the clock on a few short completions that left Oxy with a Greaves desperation heave to the end zone as time expired.
The ball was knocked out of the end zone in a crowd of Leopards, handing Oxy its third heartbreaking defeat of the season.
Oxy, which continues to improve as it rebuilds its program, has been painfully close to victory against Whittier, Willamette and now La Verne, with all three decided on the final drive.
The Tigers had 365 yards of offense to La Verne's 307, led by de Avila, who had six catches for 64 yards, Cordova and Arman Henry with five catches for 56 yards, and DJ Adams with seven catches for 50 yards.
Oxy running back Ben Rosen had a big game with 4 catches for 40 yards in the air and 11 carries for 39 yards on the ground.
Rodrigo Nieto had an interception in the third quarter for the Tigers on a key fourth down play, halting a La Verne drive in Oxy territory, and Mason Duran played well with four tackles, including one for a loss. Lesh Chadick had three tackles, two of them in the backfield.
La Verne quarterback Sam Taylor led the Leopards with 221 yards and three touchdowns.
Greaves, who's been very good all year for Oxy at the quarterback position, did not have his best day, throwing for over 300 yards, but just one touchdown and five interceptions.
Next Game: Oxy is back in action next weekend, facing Pomona-Pitzer in the Battle of the Drum. It is known as the oldest college football rivalry on the west coast.