ORANGE, Calif. – In a Homecoming game for the record books, the Chapman University football team earned a 72-40 win over the Whittier Poets in front of a record crowd on Saturday night. A total of 10 touchdowns from 10 different Panthers lit up the Wilson Field scoreboard as Chapman improved its record to 3-0 with its first SCIAC conference win.
A school record 5,430 fans were in attendance to see the Panthers score the second most points in school history (79 in 1995). Chapman tallied 525 total yards in a contest that featured a school record 112 combined points.
Panther fans knew they were in for a wild night when Chapman scored on its second play from scrimmage, a 52-yard flea-flicker from junior QB Raymond Huizar to senior WR Robin Harris. The trick play appeared to rattle the Poets, who were forced to punt on their first two possessions.
Chapman left the door open for Whittier on the second punt as returner Blayr Jimmerson fumbled the reception. Jimmerson coughed up the ball on the 7 yard line, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Whittier RB Anthony Walker that tied the game at 7-7.
Eager to take the lead back, the Panthers went to the ground on their next drive, rushing for 77 yards and a score in less than two and a half minutes. The drive, highlighted by a 55-yard run by junior RBTorrell Dolberry, was capped off by junior QB Michael Lahey's 8-yard touchdown run.
Lahey, who threw a career-high three touchdowns last week against Whitworth, was 11-of-18 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns against Whittier. He added 54 yards on eight carries, including his third rushing touchdown on the season.
The Poets answered back on the ensuing drive as QB Chris Lopez connected with WR Diante Jackson for a 41-yard touchdown, but a missed extra point allowed the Panthers to hold on to a 14-13 lead.
With 13:40 left in the second quarter, the Panthers took complete control of the game on both sides of the ball, putting up 28 unanswered points to enter halftime with a 42-13 lead. Sophomore DB Chase Tamashiro got the first of the four-straight scores, pulling down the Panthers' first interception of the season and taking it back 30 yards for a touchdown.
WR Spencer Jordan added another score on a 39-yard touchdown reception from Lahey before the Panther defense piled on with an interception by junior LB Greg Johnson who took the pick 28 yards for a touchdown.
The defense was at it again moments later, recovering a Poets fumble and setting up a 14-yard touchdown run from junior RB Cody Chapple in the final minutes of the half. Chapple finished the game as Chapman's leading rusher, carrying the ball 12 times for 127 yards.
Not willing to go down without a fight, the Poets came out of the break and scored quickly, taking advantage of another Jimmerson fumble as Walker scored the second of his game-high three rushing touchdowns.
A 40-yard field goal by Markus Trujillo was followed by a highlight-reel kick return from Whittier's Josh Pride who took the kick 94 yards for the score. As they had all night, the Panthers responded with another score, this time on a read-option run from junior RB Kean Stancil.
Following the consecutive interceptions, Whittier made a quarterback change calling on backup TJ Jordan, who tossed a 35-yard touchdown to WR Makale Ruiz-McCobb that shortened the Panthers' lead to 52-34 with less than two minutes left in the third.
Any momentum the Poets had was relinquished on the subsequent kickoff as Stancil's return put the Panthers in the red zone, setting up a 20-yard touchdown from Lahey to junior WR Anthony Ezeakunne that gave Chapman a 59-34 lead entering the final quarter.
A comfortable lead allowed head coach Bob Owens to call on his running backs in the fourth quarter and they responded well. Dolberry collected his third rushing touchdown of the season (most among Chapman runningbacks) while senior RB Austin Maranville added the finishing touch, a 23-yard touchdown that marked his first score of the season.
Chapman still has not trailed in a game this season and remained perfect in red zone opportunities, converting all six opportunities to bring their season total to 19-of-19 with 16 touchdowns.
The Panthers, who are averaging 55.7 points per game, will take their high-scoring act on the road next week as they take on Pomona-Pitzer at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
by Ryan Cavinder
Sports Information Assistant