REDLANDS, Calif. – The Chapman University football team fell 39-26 at Redlands, ending an eight-game SCIAC winning streak. Sophomore Nico Ragas had the second 100-yard kick return in program history.
The game started as a defensive battle as neither defense was willing to bend or break until there was just 4:52 left in the first half. Redlands went on to score twice in the first half and the Panthers scored all 26 of their points in the second half.
The first two drives of the game were three-and-outs and senior Matt Layton picked off his second pass of the year to end the Bulldogs second drive. However, the Panthers couldn't capitalize on the short field and turned it over on downs on the Redlands' 21.
Senior Curt Calomeni led the Panthers' defense with 15 total tackles, including one for a loss. Layton and senior Andrew Dieken recorded back-to-back sacks to stall a Redlands drive in the second quarter. Layton had eight total tackles to add to his stat line.
The defenses continued to dominate the game over the first 25 minutes. Redlands switched quarterbacks to Nathan Martinez, who helped the offense gain some momentum. He broke the scoring silence on a big play when Steve Van Grouw was unaccounted for behind the Chapman defense. Martinez hit him in stride for a 74-yard TD.
Martinez ended the game 16-of-22 for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
Three of the four Panther touchdowns came from at least 20 yards out. On the Panthers first play of the second half, senior QB Ian Fieber connected with junior Trevor Vill for 57 yards. Fieber hit Vill for 20 yards on the next play to complete the two-play scoring drive.
Vill had his fourth consecutive game with over 100 yards receiving, hauling in six catches for 120 yards and a pair of TDs. His second TD came late in the fourth from four yards out. Fieber was 21-of-37 for 255 yards and three touchdowns but threw an interception.
With the Panthers trailing 20-7, Fieber found sophomore Caleb Henshaw well behind the defense and Henshaw strolled into the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown toss.
After Henshaw's touchdown made it 20-13, the Bulldogs put together back-to-back scoring drives to make it 30-13. Meanwhile, the Redlands defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs from the Chapman offense and picked off Fieber on the second play of the next drive. Another touchdown drive made it 37-13 with 9:22 left.
The ensuing kickoff was five yards deep into the end zone but Ragas brought it, broke a couple tackles along the sideline and sprinted to the opposite end zone for the second 100-yard kickoff return in Chapman history. However, the snap on an attempted two-point conversion was botched and returned by the Bulldogs for two points.
Junior Elias Deeb's onside kick was recovered by the Panthers to keep the hopes of an improbable comeback alive. Fieber hit Vill for the four-yard TD to cap a nine-play drive for Chapman's final score. Redlands recovered the next onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.
The Panthers running game never got going against the stingy Redlands' defense. Chapman had just 17 rushing yards while Redlands' ran for 260 yards.
Chapman returns to Ernie Chapman Stadium for the first time since Sep. 1 when the Panthers host Occidental at 7 p.m. for the annual Homecoming Game on Oct. 13.
by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director