ORANGE, Calif. – An overwhelming defensive effort and potent passing attack led the Chapman University football team to a 36-6 victory over visiting Pacific University to start the 2018 season. The defense bottled up the Pacific offense while senior Ian Fieber lit up the Panther scoreboard in his debut.
It took nearly a whole quarter for either team to get on the scoreboard but once Fieber had his first taste of a Wilson Field end zone, the flood gates opened up. Fieber completed 21-of-29 passes for 351 yards and five touchdowns. He found junior Trevor Vill and senior Dominic Vaccher eight times each with both receivers hauling in a pair of TDs.
Vill totaled 174 receiving yards with Vaccher racking up 117 receiving yards. Seven different receivers caught a pass with senior Jacob Chobanian bringing down the fifth TD pass of the night.
On the other end of the ball, the defense was dominant. The Panthers totaled nine sacks and 15 total tackles for loss. As a result, the Boxers had a net rushing total of negative one yard and just 164 total yards of offense.
Senior Matt Layton led the defensive with seven tackles, including two sacks. Junior Ricky Medeiros was another force in the backfield with three sacks. Senior Curt Calomeni had six tackles, including one tackle for loss.
The defense forced the Boxers into seven three-and-outs in their 14 total drives. Three drives saw the Boxers move backwards with two more drives accounting for zero yards. The Boxers never snapped the ball closer than the Panthers' 20 yard line.
The special teams unit provided another spark for the Panthers with Vaccher breaking off a couple of long returns and senior Ben Bruce dragging the punter down in the end zone for a safety after a bad snap in the fourth. Vaccher had a 31-yard return that set the Panthers up near midfield for a scoring drive. Despite it being called back due to a penalty, his 90-yard TD return gave the Panthers a spark that led to a three-play, 85-yard drive to open the scoring.
Fieber and Vill hooked up for the opening score – a 24-yard TD toss. Fieber hit Vill for a 53-yard strike to open the drive and then tacked on 15 yards thanks to a roughing the passer penalty. After a short pass to Vaccher, Fieber found Vill on the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown to put the Panthers up 7-0.
The Panthers' next drive ended with a 40-yard touchdown toss to Vaccher to make it 14-0. A 30-yard TD toss from Fieber to Vaccher with 3:19 left in the half gave the Panthers a 21-0 lead that they took into the locker room.
The Panthers defense continued to stifle the Boxers early in the third as the visitors lost three yards on their first two drives of the third. However, Bobby Ulrich jarred the ball loose with a hit on Fieber and the Boxers jumped on it to take possession on the Panthers' 31 yard line. Pacific needed just one play for a long TD pass from JT Greenough to Hayden Von Almen.
That would be Pacific's lone visit to the end zone. Fieber marched the Panthers down the field for a seven-play, 80-yard drive on the next possession to make it 27-6 with a 19-yard TD toss to Vill. The next drive covered 59 yards over seven plays and put the Panthers back in the end zone for a 34-6 lead. Bruce's safety came late in the fourth to cap the scoring.
Chapman moves on to a bye week next week but will travel to Spokane, Wash. to take on Whitworth on Sep. 15.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director