The Chapman football team (2-2, 1-1) won its first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game of the season Saturday, Oct. 8, when the Panthers traveled to Whittier College (0-4, 0-1) and took home a 34-10 win.
The Panthers hit their season-high in points scored against the Poets largely due to a pair of two-touchdown performances from junior quarterback Ricky Bautista and sophomore running back Brandon Medina.
On the heels of their Oct. 1 homecoming game loss when the Panthers threw five interceptions, head coach Bob Owens said before the game that Chapman “won’t turn the ball over this week.” And his prediction was almost correct: Though they lost two fumbles in the game, the Panthers had zero interceptions in Saturday’s win.
Owens acknowledged that the team is youth-heavy, which means he has to be patient.
“Whether we want to have the patience or not, we’re playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores when you look at our roster,” Owens said. “And so there’s just going to be some freshman and sophomore mistakes, and we’ve got to be patient … We think as we grow through the season, we’re going to correct those mistakes, we’re going to play harder, we’re going to play more physical.”
Chapman opened the game slowly, allowing a Whittier touchdown just more than four minutes in and not scoring its first touchdown, a 4-yard run from Medina, until late in the second quarter. The score was followed by a missed extra point from junior kicker Lucas Alfonso — something Chapman struggled to convert against Trinity University (Tex.) Sept. 24 — but would be the only extra point opportunity Chapman missed in the game.
Owens said that starting slow is a problem that needs to be corrected going forward.
“I feel like we still want to have that great first half where we’re clicking on all cylinders, on offense and defense,” Owens said. “That’s something that we’re so used to doing but we’ve gotten off to a very, very slow start this year in the first and second quarter.”
Chapman came out of halftime more quickly than before the half, putting a touchdown on the board less than a minute into the third quarter. Junior wide receiver Jacob Isabel scored a 61-yard touchdown from a pass by Bautista, giving Chapman a lead it would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
Less than four minutes later, Bautista completed another touchdown pass, this time a 44-yard play caught by senior wide receiver Ethan Weinstein. Alfonso put away the two extra points following the touchdowns, putting Chapman up 20-7 less than five minutes into the second half.
Owens said the team was more relaxed in the second half.
“To begin with, good defense kept the game tight and didn’t allow Whittier to have offensive success going into halftime,” Owens said. “And then we came back in the third quarter and just relaxed and started playing football like we’re capable of and we got two quick touchdowns and it just kind of blew the game open.”
Medina added another touchdown on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter to put the Panthers up 27-7. Whittier scored a field goal a few minutes into the fourth quarter, but Chapman quickly responded with its final touchdown, a 1-yard run by sophomore fullback Chandler Wong.
Owens said he hoped the team would be able to build off the win going forward.
“I want to hope that that’s a very positive sign for our guys, just recognizing that we can have an explosive quarter like that and that we can consistently play good, tough defense through 60 minutes of football,” Owens said. “I think our guys felt very good in the second half of the game and were able to just relax and play.”
Chapman will remain on the road for its next game on Oct. 15, when it will travel to the University of Redlands (3-1, 2-0) for a 7 p.m. game.