Each time a Cal Lutheran running play was stopped for short yardage, snuffed for no gain or stonewalled for a loss, the La Verne assistant coaches perched in the press box were perplexed.
"Why are they trying to run against us?" they wondered aloud, to no one in particular.
An undersized offensive line (three starters weigh 215 pounds or fewer; the heaviest, Chris Potvin, weighs 235) was the Kingsmen's most obvious shortcoming against the Leopards, who dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and rolled to a 24-10 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory Saturday.
"We were out-horsed significantly up front, and they took advantage of it," Cal Lutheran Coach Joe Harper said. "It's something we face every week."
Cal Lutheran (2-1, 1-1 in SCIAC play) gained 36 yards in 28 carries. La Verne (2-1, 2-0) racked up 261 yards in 51 carries.
Leopard running back Danny Pasquil, a transfer from the defunct Cal State Fullerton program, slashed through gaping holes in the Kingsmen defense for 209 yards in 32 carries. His 48-yard burst on La Verne's second possession of the game set up his team's first score.
Wide receiver Craig Stewart caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Campuzano and the conversion kick made it 7-0.
The Kingsmen fell behind 14-0 on the Leopards' next possession. Darren McClellan's one-yard touchdown run capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive late in the first quarter.
The touchdown, on a fourth-and-goal play, came after Cal Lutheran jumped offside when the Leopards lined up for a field-goal attempt.
La Verne made its share of mistakes, losing four fumbles and one interception, but the Kingsmen could not capitalize.
"We had a lot of trouble running the ball," Cal Lutheran running back Steve Roussell said. "It puts a lot more pressure on the offense when the defense recognizes (our lack of size) and can blitz confidently."
Blitz it did, forcing Cal Lutheran quarterback Adam Hacker into a six-for-18 passing performance for 85 yards.
Backup Ryan Huisenga entered late in the third quarter in place of Hacker and led the Kingsmen to their lone touchdown, a one-yard run by Roussell that made the score 24-10.
Roussell led Cal Lutheran with 63 yards in 14 carries. Wide receiver Pete Marine caught five passes for 66 yards. Marine has led Kingsmen receivers in receptions and yardage in all three games.
Huisenga, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound freshman from Moorpark High, completed six of eight for 66 yards.
La Verne's Campuzano completed 12 of 20 for 122 yards and one touchdown and an interception, by linebacker Cory Undlin.