The Chapman football team (1-2, 0-1) suffered a tough 35-7 loss on homecoming night as it was beaten by the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens on Oct. 1 in its first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game of the season.
The Panthers trailed the Sagehens for the entirety of the game except for a brief moment during their second possession when they tied the score 7-7.
The loss came on the heels of the Panthers’ first victory of the season, a 19-17 home win over Trinity University (Tex.) (2-2) Sept. 24. It also marked the second loss the Panthers have ever had against the Sagehens (2-1, 1-0) – against whom Chapman has a 12-2 overall record.
The Panthers lost possession of the ball frequently during Saturday’s game, throwing five interceptions in the game.
Head coach Bob Owens said that the amount of turnovers largely contributed to the Panthers’ loss.
“We just simply made too many mistakes,” he said. “We certainly made some defensive mistakes, but offensively I think we had five passing turnovers. It’s impossible to win when you turn the ball over that much, especially when you turn the ball over when you are going in to score. It just kind of sucked the momentum out of us.”
During the Panthers’ first possession, they were able to advance to the Sagehens’ 12-yard line, but repeated the kicking struggles they had against Trinity in last week’s win — when Chapman failed to convert three kicking chances — as junior kicker Lucas Alfonso missed a 25-yard field goal.
The Sagehens’ second possession added the first points to the scoreboard. After an incomplete pass thrown by sophomore quarterback Edward Sias on second-and-goal, Sias completed a 10-yard pass to junior wide receiver Luke Lowell for a touchdown, followed by a successful extra point attempt.
With just more than three minutes left in the first quarter, Chapman got the ball back and immediately responded. Junior running back Joe Mudie handed the ball off to junior wide receiver Ian Craddock on an end-around play, and Craddock passed the ball 52 yards downfield where it was caught by junior wide receiver Jacob Isabel for a touchdown. The extra point tied up the game.
Pomona-Pitzer came back immediately on its next possession. Sias passed to junior running back Aseal Birir who was stopped at the Panthers’ 1-yard line. Sias then ran in the touchdown with a quarterback sneak and the extra point brought the score up to 14-7.
Owens said he didn’t think the team was surprised by the Sagehens.
“I thought we were very well-prepared to play the game,” Owens said. “I thought we made some missteps early – the touchdowns we didn’t get, some picks that stopped some drives early that should have been touchdowns if we could have continued those drives. Emotionally we allowed them to get in the game and gain control of the game.”
Isabel said that the team missed some opportunities for big plays that would have changed the game.
“Not just the turnovers but myself included, I left some big plays on the board and those plays could have rallied the troops and gotten the crowd into it and my teammates into it,” Isabel said. “I missed assignments and big plays.”
The second half did not start well for Chapman, as the Panthers were already down 28-7 and were unable to generate much offense.
Junior quarterback Mac Vail threw an interception that was caught by Pomona-Pitzer sophomore defensive back Elan Harris. Pomona-Pitzer started its next drive at Chapman’s 35-yard line. 10 plays later, Pomona-Pitzer freshman quarterback Karter Odermann reached into the end zone on a 1-yard run to bring the score to its final standing at 35-7.
Junior cornerback Ron Washington said that the team’s loss can be partly attributed to who wanted the win more.
“There were plays out there to be made and we just didn’t make them,” Washington said. “They wanted the ball more than we wanted it and they wanted to win more than we wanted to win.”
Owens added that the team needs to maintain the intensity level it saw in its win Sept. 24.
“Sometimes you relax. I thought we played with a lot more intensity last week than we did this week,” Owens said. “They just outplayed us. They played better than we did – it’s as simple as that.”
The Panthers will travel to last-placed Whittier College (0-3, 0-1) for their next game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8.