Chapman football (2-0) defeated the Whitworth Pirates (2-2) in Saturday’s home opener at Wilson Field with a final score of 38-17. Saturday’s game marked the final non-conference matchup for the Panthers and drew 2,764 fans.
Whitworth has won three of the last four contests against Chapman, but the Panthers’ strong fourth quarter, in which they outscored Whitworth 14-0, helped them pull out the win.
“The way our line came out in the first series and just pounded the ball was something that we were waiting for,” said Brett Gray, junior offensive lineman. “Our defense and resilience is something that really saved us.”
Chapman started the game strong with a touchdown by junior quarterback Michael Lahey, who scored on a six-yard run three minutes into the first quarter. Lahey, the starting quarterback, was previously effective in last week’s game against Puget Sound, completing 75 percent of his passes for 158 yards. In the home opener, Lahey completed 15 of 18 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think Mike has had a positive outlook and that’s why I think he’s our starter,” said Robert Paulele, the running back coach and run game coordinator. “He’s so smooth in his decision making process.”
Tension built in the second quarter when Whitworth completed a touchdown and kicked a 32-yard field goal to bring the score to 14-10. Chapman however, pushed forward and challenged the Pirates again with a rushing touchdown by the Panther’s junior backup quarterback, Kean Stancil, in the last 22 seconds of the third quarter.
Whitworth rebelled back with a 74-yard rush for a touchdown, bringing the score to a close 24-17, but Chapman was able to shut out the Pirates in the fourth quarter. Lahey’s touchdown passes to senior running back Kyle White and junior tight end Anthony Ezeakunne clenched the win.
Post game morale was high, and players said they felt positive and ready to play in next week’s homecoming game.
“There’s no better way to start off at home than to win. It’s exciting,” said Ryan Coser, junior defensive lineman.
Paulele said that he is confident but humble looking forward on the upcoming season and first conference game.
“It’s going to be a big game. Obviously with a homecoming game there’s going to be a lot of people and we just have to be efficient with what we do,” Paulele said.
The Panthers will move on to its first game in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the upcoming homecoming game against the Whittier Poets this Saturday at 7 p.m.