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Justin Edwards is one shy of the CMS rushing TD record (photo by Eva Fernandez)
Justin Edwards is one shy of the CMS rushing TD record (photo by Eva Fernandez)

Edwards Rushes for 227 Yards, 3 Touchdowns in 30-17 Win over La Verne

LA VERNE, Calif. - Justin Edwards rushed for 227 yards, his fourth career 200-yard game and just two shy of his career high, to lead the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team to a 30-17 road win at La Verne on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, CMS improves to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SCIAC, bouncing back from its first loss of the season at Chapman last weekend. La Verne slips to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the SCIAC with the loss. 

Edwards increased his career rushing touchdown total to 37 as just a junior, leaving him one short of the program record of 38 held by Chris Dabrow since 1987. Edwards had 16 rushing touchdowns as a freshman in 2021, which broke Dabrow's record by one, and he now stands one rushing touchdown away from tying, and two from breaking, Dabrow's career mark. The 227 yards also just barely left him shy of his personal best of 229, which he set as a first-year at Cal Lutheran. 

Joey Asta led the CMS defense with eight tackles and 2.5 sacks, totaling 14 yards in losses, while Benjamin Littlefield also forced a fumble recovered by Evan Gerber. The CMS offensive line of Owen Benjamin, Enzo Benzan, Gerardo Blanco, Andre NesbitJames Raymond, Bryce Mey and Gavin Smithson also helped pave the way for the 227-yard effort from Edwards, who avergaed 7.8 yards per carry. 

CMS scored a touchdown on its first drive and never trailed, but had to pull away in the second half after the Leopards stayed within 17-10 at the break. Anderson Cynkar opened the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown reception from Walter Kuhlenkamp to cap a 14-play, 61-yard drive.

La Verne got three points back on a field goal with 1:56 left in the third, but CMS quickly went 65 yards in eight plays to score on the first of Edwards' three touchdowns, a seven-yard scamper to make it 14-3 with five seconds left in the first. Edwards accounted for 63 of the 65 yards on the drive, with runs of 16 yards, 13 yards and 21 yards. 

CMS blocked a field goal attempt from La Verne, but the Leopards took advantage of a special teams fumble to take over the Stag 11-yard line and score a touchdown with 1:58 left in the half. A face mask penalty on the ensuing kickoff gave CMS a short field, and two personal fouls got the Stags deep into La Verne territory, but they had to settle for a Rich Brutto 25-yard field goal to take a 17-10 lead into the half. 

After CMS earned a stop in the second half, Edwards had a 29-yard run down to the La Verne 3, but a holding penalty forced the Stags backwards. Edwards, though, was able to convert on a 14-yard touchdown run to make it a 24-10 game. La Verne drove to the CMS 29 and faced a 3rd-and-6, but Asta had a tackle for a two-yard loss and then combined then combined with Gerber for a sack to end the drive with four seconds left in the third. 

Edwards then had 66 rushing yards on a 62-yard touchdown drive, overcoming a 15-yard penalty with a 25-yard run down to the La Verne 3-yard line. Two plays later, he plunged in from two yards out for his third touchdown of the game. The Leopards again drove to the CMS 24, but Littlefield's sack resulted in another fumble that turned the ball back over to the Stags when it was recovered by Gerne with 6:32 left. 

Edwards was pulled from the lineup for the final two CMS drives, and La Verne was able to tack on one final touchdown late to make the final score 30-17. 

CMS will be back in action next weekend when it hosts Redlands for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Zinda Field.