Football starts fast, cruises to win over Whittier

Marek Spooner-LeDuff (Photo by Larry Newman)
Marek Spooner-LeDuff (Photo by Larry Newman)

ORANGE, Calif. – Big plays on both ends of the field led the Chapman University football team to a 45-24 win over the Whittier Poets on Homecoming night at Chapman Stadium. The Panthers (2-2, 2-0 SCIAC) scored in the first minute of the game and ran up a 31-0 halftime lead.

Two plays into the game, senior Ricky Bautista came around on a reverse but pulled up for a pass. Senior Jacob Isabel was all alone behind the Whittier defense and Bautista hit him in stride for a quick 62-yard touchdown. With the quick TD, the rout was on as the Panthers were "firing on all cylinders," as head coach Bob Owens put it after the game.

The long play to Isabel was just one of five plays of over 30 yards. Chapman racked up 632 yards of total offense – just 12 yards shy of the school record set in 1996. The Panthers accumulated 343 yards through the air and 289 yards on the ground. At halftime, Chapman was up 31-0 and had outgained the Poets (0-4, 0-2 SCIAC) 335-124.

Defensively, junior Marek Spooner-LeDuff ended each of Whittier's first two drives with an interception. It was the first multi-interception game for a Chapman player since 2015. Spooner-LeDuff now has four interceptions in his first four games as a Panther with at least one pick in three games this year. The Panthers also dragged down Whittier in the back field seven times, including four sacks.

His first pick came on an overthrown pass in the end zone. Chapman turned the takeaway into points with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run from junior Marcellus Hunter. Senior Joe Mudie broke off a 34-yard in the middle of the drive to move the Panthers into Whittier territory.

Mudie had his second consecutive 100-yard game on the ground with 131 yards on just 10 carries. He also grabbed a pair of catches for 20 yards. His 151 total yards was the highest total in his career. Hunter ran for 27 yards on seven carries.

Three plays into the next drive, Spooner-LeDuff grabbed his second interception at the 36-yard line and ran it back to the 25 to set the Panther offense back up with prime field position. Bautista hit Isabel for a 25-yard touchdown on the next play to make it 21-0.

Junior Ben Bruce caught a six-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and senior Lucas Alfonso knocked through a 26-yard field with 18 seconds left in the half to make it a 31-0 halftime score.

Bautista was 16-of-20 at halftime for 233 yards and three TDs. He hit Isabel five times for a total of 142 yards and a pair of scores. He ended the game with 320 yards passing, completing 21-of-27 attempts. It was his second 300-yard game of the season and third of his career. He hit nine different receivers.

Whittier was able to get on the board with a 47-yard field goal in the third and followed it with three touchdowns. However, Mudie broke off a 46-yard run to start the drive after the field goal in the third and ended it with a four-yard TD run to make it 38-3.

Another Whittier score was followed by a couple of punts and a one play drive that scored the Panthers final points. Bautista took advantage of a short Whittier punt with a 45-yard touchdown toss to senior Kayvan Aminzadeh.

Whittier made a couple more trips to the end zone in the fourth quarter before the Panthers were able to run out the clock on their second straight win.

Chance Trammel totaled 120 yards on the ground to lead Whittier. Miguel Avina passed for 265 yards, hitting his favorite target Bryson Sanders eight times for 130 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Freshman Chris Tsirtsis led the defense with eight tackles while sophomore Ricky Medeiros has a pair of tackles for loss to lead the front seven.

Chapman remains home next week to take on Redlands as two of the three remaining teams unbeaten in SCIAC play face off. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

 

By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director

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