Playing through slight rain, the Panthers secured a record-setting 62-0 homecoming win against Occidental College Oct. 13. Chapman has not beat a team during a homecoming matchup by this margin in at least 10 years.
Twenty seconds into the first quarter, the Occidental College Tigers kicked the ball into the hands of sophomore wide receiver Nico Ragas, who sprinted the full length of the field. The Tigers’ defenders trailed Ragas as he sprinted to the end zone, scoring a touchdown for Chapman. With just over 14 minutes left in the first quarter, the Panthers had taken the lead 7-0.
Head coach Bob Owens said this play ignited the team’s energy for the rest of the game.
“It raised the energy level from zero to a hundred in one play,” Owens said.
After the opening play, Ragas became the only player in Chapman’s history to complete two touchdowns from kickoff returns. Ragas completed the first touchdown run Oct. 6 against Redlands University when he received a Bulldogs punt and ran through their defense. This was the second 100-yard kickoff run in Chapman football history.
“The legacy here is amazing,” Ragas said. “Being at the top of the list of anything here, record-wise, is amazing.”
The Tigers have won 16 league championships since 1942, with their most recent title in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. In recent years the team has been plagued by declining interest. Last year the team was forced to cancel the last four games of their season after their roster dropped to 30 players, according to the Los Angeles Times.
When asked about the competition Chapman faced in the game, Owens said he expects his team to play with the same level of intensity against every team.
“We never think about the talent gap,” Owens said. “We just line-up and play the opponent. And sometimes there is a talent gap, we just don’t know that until we play the game.”
Late in the first quarter the Panthers’ offense displayed the team’s chemistry by running a lateral play. The play ended with a pass from senior wide receiver Dominic Vaccher to junior wide receiver Trevor Vill in the endzone, giving the Panthers a 14-0 lead.
Vill’s chemistry with his teammates extends to his connection with senior quarterback Ian Fieber. Fieber finished the game with 12 out of 16 passes completed.
With around three minutes left in the first quarter, Fieber completed a 15-yard pass to Vill for a touchdown, giving Chapman a 21-0 lead.
“It’s going to be Vill,” Fieber said, when asked which wide receiver he had the best chemistry with. “It’s nice when you can look at one guy, and there’s multiple guys … You can trust and know that they’re doing the right thing.”
Winning 28-0 with just over 13 minutes left in the half, Owens decided to make substitutions earlier in the game than usual, putting senior tight end Ben Bruce on the field. Bruce finished the game with three completed passes, two of which resulted in touchdowns.
In total, the Tigers recorded seven first downs, compared to the Panthers’ 29. The Panthers capitalized on 78 percent of their third downs and the Tigers were successful on 13 percent of their third downs.
During marginal wins like these, Fieber said he looks to give more players the opportunity to score.
“I go through my progressions and reads (when running plays),” Fieber said. “It’s well-deserved because (Bruce) is such a dominant force.”
Because of the dominant first half, Owens gave junior defensive back Sal Ochoa and sophomore quarterback Jonston MacIntyre more opportunities on the offensive end.
MacIntyre threw a four-yard pass to Bruce for a touchdown and a 41-yard pass to Vill for a touchdown during the end of the third quarter, bringing the score to 56-0.
Ochoa intercepted a pass on the defensive end and scored on a 36-yard touchdown. The Panthers scored a game total of nine touchdowns.
“The coaches put us in a great spot every game,” Vill said when asked about the quality of the bench unit. “We’ve got a great team.”
The Panthers face the Kingsmen at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at California Lutheran University.