Football faces first road test at Whitworth

The football team runs on to the field.
Photo by Larry Newman

Chapman at Whitworth
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Puryear Field at the Pine Bowl
1 p.m.
Live Stats | Video  Notes


Chapman and Whitworth meet for the first time since 2015 and the 10th time in program history. The Pirates hold the all-time series edge, 6-3, but the Panthers have won three of the last five meetings. Both teams come into the matchup coming off an opening week win and a bye week. Both teams also have a bye next week.


A dynamic and explosive offense in 2017 did not slow down with a new face under center in 2018. Senior transfer Ian Fieber lit up the scoreboard and tore through the Pacific defense for 351 yards and five touchdowns. He threw for just 11 touchdowns and 2,075 yards in 12 games for the University of Sioux Falls a year ago.


Vill and Vaccher. Junior Trevor Vill and senior Dominic Vaccher were Fieber's favorite targets in week one. Both accounted for over 100 yards receiving and both caught a pair of touchdowns. Fieber to Vill and Fieber to Vaccher also accounted for five passes of at least 27 yards. Vill hauled in a 53-yard reception – the longest of week one – but Vaccher caught a 40-yard TD pass – the longest TD play of week one.


The Panthers ground game didn't take off quite as quickly as the passing game. The Panthers netted 66 rushing yards although that number took a hit with Fieber being sacked five times. Junior Derek Bauerle took the majority of the carries with 12 for 47 yards. His 14-yard rush was the longest of the night.


Chapman's front seven was a constant nuisance in Pacific's backfield in week one. They allowed just five net yards of rushing to the Boxers, who had just one rush for over 10 yards – a JT Greenough scramble. Led by a pair of sacks from senior Matt Layton, the Panthers dragged down the Boxers' QB for eight sacks. Sophomore David Aarhus had 3.5 total tackles for loss to lead a surge of 12 TFLs for the defense.


With most SCIAC teams just a game into the season, Layton and Aarhus rank 1-2 in the conference for sacks. Aarhus also leads the SCIAC in tackles for loss. Fieber leads the conference in completion percentage, yards per game, passing touchdowns and completion percentage while also ranking second with 12.1 yards per attempt. Vill and Vaccher rank first and third, respectively, in receiving yards per game.


With a 38-2 win over SCIAC-foe La Verne, the Whitworth Pirates started the 2018 season with some equally eye-popping numbers. The defense did not allow any points and limited La Verne to just 255 yards while the offense tallied 459 total yards (213 rushing, 246 passing). Leif Eriksen was 16-of-25 for 239 yards and a pair of TDs. Mason Elms carried the ball 10 times for 63 yards but Connor Johnston broke off a late 76-yard run to lead the ground game with 86 yards on four rushes. Defensively, the Pirates were in the Leopards' backfield all day with 16 tackles for loss and three sacks. Chad Wilburg's 3.5 tackles for loss led that surge with two Pirates racking up 10 total tackles.


The Pirates forced three turnovers from the Leopards but a couple of late interceptions led to a total of three turnovers for the Pirates' offense. Whitworth snagged two INTs and jumped on a fumble. The Panthers only caused turnover was called back due to a penalty while they gave up a fumble to the Boxers.


Whitworth's blowout of La Verne could have been much worse if not for the 13 flags thrown against the Pirates for a total of 135 yards. Chapman was penalized six times for a total of 52 yards in its opener.


The Panthers are 1-0 for the first time since 2013 when they started 5-0 and ended the season 8-1. Chapman defeated Whitworth in Chapman Stadium for their second win in the season-opening five-game win streak. Last year, the Panthers started 0-2 before winning their last six regular season games in a row to claim the SCIAC title.


The Panthers last trip to Spokane, Wash. came in 2014 with the Panthers claiming a 49-34 victory. Chapman led 21-20 late in the second quarter but scored the next 28 points in the game to put it out of reach. Now assistant coach, Michael Lahey passed for 302 yards and ran for 98 more to lead the Panthers to the victory. The win sparked an eight-game win streak that ended with the Panthers claiming a SCIAC championship for the first time.


Just before his junior season on the Chapman football team, Hunter Spriggs was diagnosed with Leukemia. After receiving treatment, he received a second diagnosis last spring and is currently battling that second diagnosis. In a display of solitude with their brother, a Chapman football player will wear Spriggs' number 77 jersey in each of Chapman's games this year.