Football holds off Trinity for home-opening win

Jacob Isabel (photo by Larry Newman)
Jacob Isabel (photo by Larry Newman)

ORANGE, Calif. – A last second field goal sailed wide of the goal posts and the Chapman University football team held on for a 19-17 victory over visiting Trinity in Saturday's home-opener. The Panthers (1-1) picked up their first win of the season on the strength of a stingy defense and a 300-plus yard game through the air.

Juniors Ricky Bautista and Mac Vail split time under center and almost equally split the production through the air as the pair combined for 328 yards on 20-of-29 passing. Vail threw a touchdown but Bautista ran for one. Vail completed 12 of his 17 passes for 167 yards and Bautista went an efficient 8-of-10 for 161 yards.

The Panthers defense bent but didn't break as the Tigers outgained the Panthers 409-342 but didn't find the end zone until the third quarter. Juniors Chris Williams and Ron Washington each came away with an interception and senior Devin Ray had 14 tackles to anchor the defensive effort.

Senior Ben Wadors led a defensive front that was constantly in the backfield. He had four of the Panthers' nine tackles for loss that accounted for 30 negative yards. Two of those tackles for loss were sacks. Junior Austin Pyka also got to the quarterback for a sack.

After a big return to open the game, Trinity used a nine-play drive to move into field goal range. Ray stopped the drive when he stuffed Evan McDowell's run at the line of scrimmage and forced the ball loose. The Tigers jumped on the fumble at the 20 yard line and hit the 37 yard field goal for an early lead.

After a quick 12-yard drive the Panthers punted and Trinity was driving again. Austin Grauer took a deep shot at the end zone but Williams came down with the pass in the end zone and took it back out to the 10. A 47-yard pass from Bautista to Joe Mudie moved the Panthers across midfield but a snap over Bautista's head stalled the drive and the Panthers punted again.

Trinity continued to give the ball to McDowell as he moved the Tigers back into field goal range but the field goal attempt went wide and Chapman took full advantage. Vail hit three different receivers on a seven play, 76-yard drive that ended in the end zone. A quick pass to junior Jacob Isabel turned into a 35-yard score as a slew of blockers cleared the way and Isabel bowled his across the goal line.

Grauer's next pass was picked off by Washington but the Panthers were forced to punt and pinned the Tigers back on their own nine. A quick three-and-out led to a Trinity punt.

After a bad snap, junior Matthew Mucerino was able to swat the punt attempt back into the end zone, where junior Diano Pachote jumped on it for a 12-3 Chapman lead.

Another missed field goal made it a 12-3 halftime score but Vail was picked off to end Chapman's first drive of the second half. A few plays later, a trick play ended with Rhodes Degg finding Tommy Lavine  all alone for a 40-yard touchdown.

The teams traded punts and Chapman missed a field goal as the Panthers went into the fourth with a 12-10 lead. After trading punts to start the fourth, Bautista found Mudie alone on the sideline for a 57-yard strike that set up a Bautista's 12-yard keeper for a touchdown.

Trinity responded with a 30-yard toss of their own and forced a Chapman punt with less than a minute left. Grauer moved the Tigers down to Chapman's 30 but the last second field goal attempt sailed way left as Chapman held on for the win.

Isabel hauled in 106 yards on eight catches while Mudie's two big plays gave him 115 receiving yards on four catches to go along with his 27 rushing yards.

The Panthers are back at home next week for the annual Homecoming game. Chapman hosts Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m. at Chapman Stadium.


by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director

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