Vaccher makes history with game-winning grab

Dominic Vaccher runs toward the end zone.
Dominic Vaccher (photo by Larry Newman)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The longest touchdown pass in school history gave the Chapman University football team a 33-29 win on the road at Cal Lutheran. Senior Dominic Vaccher hauled in the record-breaking touchdown pass and was just shy of another school record in the win.

Vaccher needed to catch just seven passes for 307 receiving yards – three of which ended in the end zone. His last catch was the longest in school history and proved to be the game-winning score. He is just the second receiver in Chapman history to account for over 300 yards and was just 20 yards shy of the school record.

The Panthers took over on their own nine yard line, down 29-26, after junior Cesar Delgado forced a fumble that fellow senior Ricky Medeiros snagged out of the air for the Panthers' second fumble recovery of the game.

The Cal Lutheran defense swarmed around a swing pass, stopping it for a loss on the five. On the next play, Vaccher broke loose behind the secondary. Senior Ian Fieber delivered a deep ball in stride to Vaccher, who sprinted away from the chasing defenders for the longest touchdown pass in school history.

The Panthers defense stood strong on the ensuing drive. A long kick return set up the Kingsmen at midfield but Chapman forced a fourth-and-six. Quarterback Eli Peters converted the fourth down conversion down to the 33. On third-and-10, Peters dropped back to pass but waited in the pocket too long. Junior Jonathan Bunnel and senior Dakota Palmer met at the QB and dragged him down for the Panthers fourth sack of the game. On fourth down, the Panthers had pressure on Peters again as he rushed a throw and bounced it to his receiver.

The Panthers took over and ran out the clock to seal the win. Bunnell had 1.5 sacks to lead the Panthers defense behind the line of scrimmage. Senior Curt Calomeni led the defense with nine tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

The passing game stole the spotlight with the big 95-yard game-winning touchdown but junior Derek Bauerle had one of his biggest nights of the year running the ball. He carried the ball 30 times for 140 yards, including a season-best 43-yarder.

Fieber was just 12-of-31 on the night but threw for 341 yards and four TDs. He hit Vaccher for a 52-yard touchdown in the first quarter and another 55-yarder that set up his nine-yard toss to senior Jacob Chobanian early in the second. His TD pass to Chobanian gave Chapman an early 19-0 lead.

The Kingsmen offense started rolling, scoring once before halftime to make it 19-7. In the second half, they kept rolling. Peters broke off a 50-yard run and tossed a 66-yard pass to give Cal Lutheran a 22-19 lead.

Vaccher's third TD – a 30-yard pass with 1:21 left in the third quarter – reclaimed a 26-22 lead for Chapman. However, Cal Lutheran responded with a three-play drive that covered 89 yards and ended with Chris Anderson's 53-yard touchdown run and a 29-26 fourth quarter lead.

With plenty of big plays, the offenses racked up over 900 combined yards. Cal Lutheran had the slight edge 477-466. Anderson ran for 124 yards while Peters threw for 259 yards and ran for 81 more.

The Panthers return home next week to take on Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m. in Chapman Stadium.

 

 

by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director

Become a fan of Chapman Athletics on Facebook
Follow Chapman Athletics on Twitter @ChapmanSports
Post your #PantherPic to Instagram @ChapmanSports