Football sends off seniors with 55-34 win

The 22 football seniors before the game.
Photo by Larry Newman

ORANGE, Calif. – A third consecutive winning season was clinched with another offensive outburst in a 55-34 win for the Chapman University football team over La Verne. The Panthers (5-4, 4-3 SCIAC) sent their 22 seniors out with a win in a high-scoring game featuring big play after big play.

The game featured over 1,000 yards of total offense with the Panthers racking up 521 yards on offense. Senior Ian Fieber left his mark on the program and put a stamp on a stellar senior season with two Chapman records. He equaled the Chapman record for touchdowns in a game with six passing TDs to four different receivers. In the process, he shattered Chapman's single season record as he ended the year with 28 passing scores.

His 368 yards through the air against La Verne also set a new single season record for passing yards with 2,545. He also set the school record with 184 completions and 299 attempts in his only season as a Panther.

Fieber hit fellow senior Dominic Vaccher for a pair of TDs with a seven-yarder in a huge second quarter and a 19-yard TD toss in the third. Seniors Jacob Chobanian caught another one of Fieber's TDs in the third to complete a five-play, 65-yard drive that put Chapman up 42-20.

Vaccher hauled in seven catches for 101 yards and a pair of touchdowns to cap off a senior season that saw him average 102.5 yards per game. Fellow senior Ben Bruce caught three passes for 63 yards. Sophomore Caleb Henshaw caught four passes for 93 yards with two catches ending in the end zone, including a 53-yard score as part of the 28-point second quarter.

Senior Curt Calomeni led the defense with 15 tackles while fellow senior Matt Layton was in on 11 tackles. Junior Ricky Medeiros had eight tackles, including a sack.

Chapman scored first on sophomore Nico Ragas' three-yard end around but Martaveous Holliday answered for La Verne with a two-yard TD run at the end of the first quarter. With a 7-7 score at the end of the first, the offenses began to light up the scoreboard with a combined 41 points in the second.

Fieber found Henshaw for a 19-yard score and Holliday answered again for La Verne. The fireworks went off when Fieber hit Henshaw for a 53-yard touchdown to go up 21-14 but James Gonsalves took the ball up the middle for 80 yards on the Leopards' first play from scrimmage. The extra point flew left and kept the Panthers in front.

Chapman responded with a five-play, 62-yard drive to go up 28-20 and the defense come up with a big three-and-out to give Chapman the opportunity to seize momentum. The stop ended a streak of six consecutive drives that ended in the end zone. Nine plays and 78 yards later, Fieber hit junior Jacob Baker with a three-yard TD toss to put Chapman up 35-20 at the half.

The Panthers continued to pour it on in the second half, forcing a three-and-out to start the half and then forcing a turnover on downs just four plays after Fieber was picked off near midfield. Chapman went on to score on its next three drives to go up 55-27 and cruised through the fourth quarter to the season-ending victory.

Junior Jake Newman broke off a 45-yard run to highlight a 127-yard day for him on 15 carries. The Panthers offensive line did not allow a sack while Fieber went 23-for-32.The Leopards had 361 rushing yards and scored all of their TDs on the ground with Holliday gaining 136 yards to score two TDs on 24 carries and Gonsalves accounting for 132 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Chapman clinched its third consecutive winning season, matching the longest such streak in school history. The Panthers finished the 2018 season at 5-4 and 4-3 in the SCIAC, taking fourth place in the standings. The Panthers have never finished below .500 in conference games in its seven season in the SCIAC.


By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director

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