Last week, Chapman’s football team secured at least a share of the conference title with a 46-38 win over California Lutheran University. On Nov. 4, Chapman removed “sharing” from the equation.
Chapman’s 48-38 home win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps capped off an undefeated conference season, giving the team its first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship since 2014. Had Chapman lost, it would have possibly had to share the title with the University of Redlands, despite its Oct. 14 victory over Redlands.
“We had no interest in sharing,” said captain and senior running back Diano Pachote. “I was going to die on that field before we were going to share anything with Redlands.”
Coming into the game, Pachote hadn’t rushed the ball all season. In his four-year Chapman career as a running back, he has carried the ball seven times for 27 yards, but never scored a running touchdown. Early in the second quarter, that changed.
Chapman’s offensive line opened up a hole and Pachote ran through it for a 14-yard touchdown. He had six carries for 61 yards, which more than tripled his collegiate rushing total in one game.
“I had no idea that was coming,” Pachote said. “I saw the red sea part and I couldn’t believe it. Anybody could’ve run through that hole, I was just lucky enough to have the ball.”
While Pachote set his own milestones, senior quarterback Ricky Bautista and senior wide receiver Jacob Isabel broke Chapman records. Bautista’s 23 passing touchdowns and Isabel’s 10 receiving touchdowns – which lead the SCIAC – are the most passing and receiving touchdowns ever by Chapman players in a single season.
The third trident of Chapman’s offense this season has been senior running back Joe Mudie, who leads the SCIAC with 119.9 rushing yards per game. Mudie, who rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns, said the effectiveness of Chapman’s passing game has made his job easier.
“It’s amazing being able to lead the conference in rushing yards,” Mudie said. “All the credit to the offense. Ricky (Bautista) being able to throw the ball like he does and Isabel and all the receivers, it takes a lot of pressure off me because the defenses have to cover the pass. We’re just an exploding offense.”
Chapman’s offense has often been bolstered by its key defensive plays this season. On Nov. 4, it came in the form of an early fumble recovery by freshman linebacker Dillon Keefe, an Orange native, who recorded his first two unassisted sacks in the game.
“All of a sudden, I see the ball pop out and it goes underneath someone’s legs and I’m jumping on it and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I hope that was a fumble,’ otherwise that would have been embarrassing,” Keefe said. “As soon as I came up with it, they were like, ‘Who recovered that fumble?’ I was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome. I did that.'”
Mudie said that despite winning a championship when he was a freshman in 2014, the feeling was different this season.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Mudie said. “We were just coming in and reaping the benefits of the leadership of that year. So, coming in this year and knowing how to win, having that championship culture, (we) want to pass that on to every other class below us.”
Chapman was scheduled to face Occidental College in its last game of the season Nov. 11, before Occidental had to forfeit its season due to a lack of players. Due to the scheduling of the game coming in the last week of the season, Chapman has a makeshift “bye week” before playing in the NCAA Division III College Football Championship. Head coach Bob Owens said the team will have to maintain the same approach it has in game weeks, something Pachote echoed.
“I think the main thing is to not relax during this next week,” Pachote said. It’s a preparation for a game week, so it might be nice to let your bodies get a little bit of a break, but mentally, we have to be just as focused, because that team that we’re going to end up seeing is playing a football game and they’re going to stay sharp. We can’t give them any edge on us.”
The bracket results of the Championship will be announced during the selection show at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 12.