Football looks to stay unbeaten at home

The football team runs out of the end zone
Photo by Larry Newman

Pomona-Pitzer at Chapman
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Ernie Chapman Stadium (Orange, Calif.)
7 p.m.
Live Stats | Video  Notes


The Panthers look to keep pace in the SCIAC standings when they take on Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m. in Chapman Stadium. Chapman enters the game in a tie for second place in the SCIAC standings while Pomona-Pitzer is one game back at 2-2.


The Sagehens last trip to Chapman Stadium resulted in a 35-7 Homecoming spoiling win. Last year, the Sagehens were on the verge of handing Chapman its third loss in a row to open the season but Joe Mudie punched in a touchdown from the one yard line as time expired to give Chapman a dramatic 42-40 win. The Sagehens win in 2016 was one of just two against the Panthers in the series history. Chapman leads the all-time matchup 13-2.


Senior Dominic Vaccher stole the spotlight as the Panthers came up with a dramatic 33-29 victory at Cal Lutheran. Vaccher became the only receiver in all NCAA divisions this year to amass over 300 receiving yards in a single game. With the Panthers down three and four minutes to go, senior Ian Fieber connected with Vaccher on a 95-yard touchdown strike – the longest in Chapman history. Vaccher's seven catches for 307 yards and three TDs boosted his season total to 32 catches for 601 yards and seven TDs. He now leads the squad with 120.2 yards per game. He eclipsed career-highs for catches, yards and touchdowns in a single game and in a season.


With one of the biggest receiving game nationwide this season, as well as in Chapman history, Vaccher took in quite an award haul. The senior from Fullerton, Calif. was named the Chapman Athlete of the Week, the SCIAC Offensive Athlete of the Week and was selected to's Team of the Week.


While the offense provided plenty of electric moments in the back and forth battle at Cal Lutheran, the defense continued to flex its muscle, especially up front. Chapman recorded seven tackles for loss in the game, including four sacks. The record-setting pass was also set up by Cesar Delgado's forced fumble in the red zone. Delgado jarred the ball loose and senior Ricky Medeiros made a diving catch to snag the loose ball out of the air.


Junior Jonathan Bunnell took over on the final series to force the final turnover on downs. On third down, Bunnel was the first to meet quarterback Eli Peters in the backfield for the Panthers fourth sack. Senior Dakota Palmer helped Bunnell drag down Peters to set up fourth-and-long. It was Bunnel again on fourth down that flushed Peters out of the pocket and dragged him to the ground as he forced a throw that landed incomplete. The Panthers rank 14th in Division III with 3.83 sacks per game and 26th with 8.3 tackles for loss per game.


The Panthers' defense has been stellar at home. In its first two games, the Panthers have allowed just six points and 301 yards of total offense. Senior Matt Layton has two of his six sacks at home and sophomore David Aarhus has four tackles for loss on Wilson Field. The Panthers are averaging 10 TFLs and four sacks per home game.


The opening kickoff was a short one at Cal Lutheran but sophomore Nico Ragas did get two chances to return a kick after Cal Lutheran took a lead. His first return went for 28 yards but he broke his second one for a 41-yard return that put the Panthers near midfield. His average of 37 yards per return is the best in Division III by half a yard.


Big plays have been a part of every game this year so far for the Panthers. Chapman has had at least one play for over 50 yards in all six games this season. The Panthers have four plays that have covered at least 80 yards. Twelve different plays have spanned at least half the field and 36 plays have covered more than 25 yards. Of those 36 plays, 27 plays have come from the offense, eight have come on special teams and one has come from the defense. Vaccher leads in the big play department with 10 plays of at least 25 yards, including four that have gone for at least 50 yards. Senior Trevor Vill has eight big play and Ragas has six returns of at least 25 yards.


Pomona-Pitzer is the only other team in the SCIAC to average over 200 yards passing besides Chapman. However, the Sagehens average 257.5 yards per game compared to Chapman's 334.8. The Sagehens rank second to Chapman in yards per game and third in points per game. Elan Harris' five picks this season lead the SCIAC. The Sagehens lead the league with 14 takeaways, including eight interceptions, and allow just 150 passing yards per game. Karter Odermann and Edward Sias lead the offense as both take turns under center and stand behind an offensive line that has allowed just eight sacks this year. Odermann and Derek Norris lead the rushing attack as the two combine for nearly 80 yards per game. Sias has thrown for 1,018 yards and six TDs this year but has also thrown eight INTs. Pomona-Pitzer's return man Tate Tussing ranks eighth in the nation and second in the SCIAC with over 32 yards per kick return, trailing only Ragas in the SCIAC. 


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 most of Chapman's games this year. 
Game 1: Alec Kohn | Game 2: Ryan Moles
Game 3: Owen Savage | Game 4: Jimmy Vreeland