Football remains unbeaten at home
Chilly autumn air and the echo of 2,476 fans was the ideal recipe for perfect football, as Chapman defeated the University of La Verne with a booming 38-12 victory Saturday evening at Wilson Field for the Hall of Fame game.
With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Panthers finish with a flawless 4-0 home record – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1995.
A first in his career at Chapman, Head Coach Bob Owens said the goal has been attainable in past seasons, but this team was able to deliver.
“It’s been one of those achievable goals, but we had just the right blend of coaches and players to actually do it this year,” Owens said. “We have a great venue, terrific facilities and an outstanding fan base, so it means a lot to make our home crowd happy.”
The win keeps the Panthers (5-2, 4-1) in second in the SCIAC behind Cal Lutheran (6-1, 5-0) and marks the first time in three years they won’t finish with a 4-5 record.
Chapman was quick to set the pace for a high scoring conference matchup. An early 40-yard touchdown from sophomore quarterback Kean Stancil to junior wide receiver Robin Harris put the Panthers on the scoreboard with a 7-0 lead at the 13:25 mark in the first quarter. Stancil said the ability to capitalize on early opportunity is key against any opponent.
“We knew it was crucial to get off to a fast start. Those points are what set the tone for the rest of the night,” Stancil said.
Senior kicker Mauricio Alfonso put the finishing touches on an already explosive first-quarter offense, sinking a 20-yard field goal to push the lead to 10-0 with just 1:59 left on the clock.
“Obviously we want to come out on top in the first quarter, but it isn’t some- thing that’s do or die. We just play hard and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Owens said.
Chapman’s defense held the Leopards (3-4, 3-2) scoreless until an 11-yard touchdown from junior running back Matthew Biggers late in the second quarter. Biggers’ effort sparked the otherwise lackluster La Verne, and they scored another touchdown to open the second half.
Despite the comeback attempt, the Panthers weren’t quick to fold. Stancil found the end zone with back-to-back touchdowns runs of 75 yards or more to cap Chapman’s third quarter run at 31-12.
The deficit proved too much for the Leopard defense, which let yet another Panther touchdown slip through, this time from senior running back Al White with 4:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. As a team, Chapman ran for 453 yards on 42 carries while the defense racked in 86 total tackles.
Stancil dominated the game with his dual-threat ability, throwing for 152 yards and a touchdown while adding 248 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Prior to the game, the Panthers celebrated senior night by honoring 16 seniors playing at home for the final time in their careers, notably led by Alfonso and senior left tackle D.J. Brandel.
Brandel said the opportunity to earn a SCIAC title has kept the team on its toes.
“Everyone has played selflessly and kept that conference championship as the main focus,” Brandel said. “That’s why we have been so successful, because we refuse to settle for anything less than our best.” Chapman will look for another SCIAC victory as it travels to Claremont Mudd-Scripps Saturday at 1 p.m.