ORANGE, Calif. – Four forced turnovers turned into 13 crucial points as the Chapman University football team defeated the visiting Redlands Bulldogs 27-13 to move back to .500 in the SCIAC. Back in front of its home crowd, the Chapman defense turned in a solid performance to lead the Panthers (3-5, 3-3 SCIAC) to the victory.
An interception and three fumble recoveries proved to be the difference in the game as the Chapman offense was able to turn the four turnovers into 13 points. After a game of big plays last week, the Chapman defense did not allow a play for over 22 yards and only allowed Redlands in the red zone three times.
The Chapman secondary combined for six pass breakups and an interception while also forcing a fumble. It was senior Drew DeMarco's interception that opened the takeaway flood gates for Chapman and swung momentum in favor of the home team.
Chapman and Redlands each put together methodical, 13-play drives that lasted over five minutes and finished in the end zone to start the game. After Redlands (3-5, 3-3 SCIAC) forced a three-and-out, it drove back into Chapman territory. DeMarco leapt to grab Paul Avila's pass and suddenly end the drive.
Three plays later senior Jeremiah McKibbins went 54 yards for a touchdown on a highlight reel run. On third-and-four, McKibbins took the ball on a run to the left side. When no holes opened up, he reversed his field and sprinted down the right sideline for the 54-yard TD run. The run accounted for a large chunk of his 131 yards on 24 carries.
McKibbins scored all three touchdowns for the Panthers before leaving the game midway through the third quarter. He punched in Chapman's first TD from the one yard line, scored from 54 yards out on a highlight worthy run and punched in another one-yard TD run just before halftime.
After McKibbins big run, the Bulldogs ended their next drive with another miscue as a line drive field goal attempt never made it past the line of scrimmage.
Chapman again set the tone in the third quarter as freshman Beau Keeve forced another Bulldogs fumble on the opening kickoff of the half, which senior Jack Cullen pounced on. A penalty stalled the ensuing drive and Chapman was forced to punt but pinned the Bulldogs inside their own 10.
Redlands put together another long drive, using 14 plays to go 88 yards and ending in a one yard TD run for Kevin Russell. However the Panthers blocked the extra point and did not allow the Bulldogs in the end zone again.
Two plays after Redlands forced Chapman's only turnover of the night, sophomore Derek Hart poked out another Redlands fumble. Junior Devin Ray fell on the loose at the Redlands' 33 yard line. With just seven seconds left in the third quarter, sophomore Lucas Alfonso put Chapman up two scores with a 38-yard field goal to make it 24-13.
Later in the fourth quarter, junior Ethan Weinstein took his turn to force a turnover, stripping the ball away from Redlands' Kevin Johnson on the 24 yard line. The fourth takeaway of the night set up another Alfonso field goal.
Redlands drove back down the field, needing a quick score to stay in the game. The Bulldogs moved down to the Panthers' seven, but junior Conner Larkin broke up Russell's pass in the end zone on fourth-and-two to put the ball back in the Panthers hands. A quick kneel down ran out the clock and sealed the win.
Junior Andrew Chavez was 10-of-13 for 108 passing yards. He found junior Devin Kelly three times for 59 yards. Redlands outgained Chapman 341-305 yards but the four turnovers and eight penalties for 95 yards proved to be too much to overcome.
The Panthers wrap up their season next Saturday when they host Whittier in a rare afternoon kickoff at 1 p.m.
by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director