Football takes on Whittier for Homecoming

Three defensive players celebrate an interception.
Photo by Larry Newman

Whittier at Chapman
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Ernie Chapman Stadium (Orange, Calif.)
7 p.m.
Live Stats | Video Notes | Tickets


Chapman football starts the SCIAC schedule with a Homecoming matchup against visiting Whittier College on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Panthers come into the game 2-0 after beating No. 10 Whitworth and the Poets are 1-1 after a close loss to Lewis & Clark.


The Panthers have more wins against Whittier than any other school since 1994. Chapman is 20-3 against Whittier in the 25-year history since its return and have won the last nine matchups. Last year, the Panthers cruised to a 54-14 victory at Whittier in the SCIAC opener for both teams. The Poets' last trip to Orange was the 2017 Homecoming game with the Panthers capturing the 42-24 win on their way to a SCIAC title run.


The Panthers are 5-2 in SCIAC openers since joining the league in 2012. After winning the first three 2012-14, Chapman dropped back-to-back SCIAC openers in 2015 and 2016. The Panthers went on the road in 2017 and 2018 to get back on the winning track.


The Panthers made a little bit of history with a win over No. 10 Whitworth two weeks ago. It was Chapman's first-ever win over a ranked team, ending a 19-game skid against teams in the top-25. As a result of the win, the Panthers are receiving votes in both the and AFCA polls. Redlands jumped into both polls as a result of its upset win over Linfield. The Bulldogs visit Chapman Stadium on Oct. 12.


The Panthers plus-4 turnover margin through two games ranks as the 15th-best in the nation. The defense and special teams have forced seven turnovers already while the offense has lost three. The Poets have yet to turn the ball over in two games and have one takeaway so far this season. 


The running game has gone the Panthers' way on both sides of the ball through two games. Chapman's rushing average of 312.5 yards per game through the first two games ranks fourth-best in Division III. On the other side of the ball, Chapman has allowed just 20.5 yards per game. The defense ranks as the second-lowest in the nation – only trailing St. John's defensive average of 14.7 yards per game. To break it down further, Chapman is averaging 6.2 yards per carry while the defense is allowing just 1.1 yards per carry.


The Panthers run game does not come with one focus. A pair of freshman lead the effort on the ground in Isaiah Woods and Marcos Reyes but quarterback Jonston MacIntyre and sophomore Tanner Mendoza have made significant contributions as well. All four average more than seven carries per game. All four are averaging more than five yards per carry and each has broken off at least one run of 20-plus yards. All four have found the end zone at least once in combining for eight scores. Woods' 169 yards on 21 carries leads the team in yardage. MacIntyre's 22 carries for 140 yards are the most carries on the squad. Reyes' 55-yard run against Whitworth is Chapman's longest play of the year.


The Panthers' front seven continued to wreak havoc in the backfield through its first two games. Chapman has already accumulated 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Its average of five sacks per game ranks fifth in the nation while the 8.5 TFLs per game are tops in the SCIAC and in the top-40 in the Division III. Junior Dillon Keefe has kept the party going with five tackles for loss. He leads the SCIAC with 2.5 per game and ranks in the top-10 in the country.


In the 25 seasons since reviving the football program, the Panthers have never strung together four consecutive winning seasons. That all can change this year with at least five wins. Chapman has posted a winning season in each of the last three seasons and six of the last seven, making it the winningest stretch in Panther history. The Panthers need just three wins in the SCIAC portion of the season to make history. Chapman has never finished worse than 4-3 in any of its seven seasons in the SCIAC.


Freshman Owen Tapia is stepping into the role vacated by All-American punter Elias Deeb. Tapia earned SCIAC Special Teams Athlete of the Week after averaging over 50 yards per punt in seven punts against Whitworth. He sent a booming 73-yard punt from one red zone to the other at a crucial moment in the game to set the school record by a yard. Tapia ranks seventh in the Division III with 44.7 yards per punt and the Panthers rank second in net punting, averaging a 42.27-yard shift of field position per punt.