LA VERNE, California – Senior quarterback Tanner Diebold threw for 322 yards in his first-career start for the Puget Sound football team, but the Loggers could not fully climb out of an early deficit in a season-opening loss at La Verne, 33-25, on Saturday afternoon.
La Verne (1-0) carried a 13-0 lead into the second quarter, and a Logger comeback seemed nearly impossible when the Leopards took a 20-0 advantage. However, Dieblold, AJ Johnson, and the Loggers (0-1) were up for the challenge.
Johnson was impressive in his collegiate debut, reeling in seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. His 47-yard touchdown reception with three minutes left in the first half put the Loggers on the scoreboard for the first time.
The Loggers quickly regained possession thanks to Matt Ahnin's interception at Puget Sound's 39-yard line.
The following drive ended with senior kicker Drew Kristensen connecting on a 29-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the first half, cutting La Verne's lead in half by the break.
Johnson had 105 receiving yards through the first two quarters.
The Loggers maintained momentum early in the second half, and Vance Wood's two-yard rushing score four minutes into the third quarter made it a three-point game, 20-17.
In their ensuing possession, the Leopards were held to just a field goal. Puget Sound faced a one-possession deficit, 23-17, midway through the third quarter. La Verne added to its lead with a touchdown late in the quarter, and then tacked on three points early in the fourth.
Paul Thomas caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter, and Aiden Santino caught a two-point conversion to make the score 33-25. The Puget Sound defense forced La Verne into a three-and-out, and the Loggers began their final possession on their own 20-yard line with 3:44 on the clock.
Diebold sprinted for a couple of six-yard gains, and he connected with a Collin Heimbach for a 21-yard completion that brought the Loggers down to La Verne's 21-yard line. Three incompletions and a sack by the Leopard defense ended the game.
Senior safety Max Washam led the Loggers with 10 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss.
The Loggers make their home debut in Baker Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, against Occidental. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.