May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Chapman football team remains undefeated with 21-18 victory over No. 15 Redlands

Spencer Corona (No. 13) and Wyatt Hardin (No. 83) celebrate Corona’s touchdown catch Saturday. (Photo courtesy Larry Newman, For OC Sports Zone)

The Chapman University football team stayed undefeated with a 21-18 win over No. 15 Redlands on Saturday.

The Panthers (4-0, 2-0 SCIAC) scored all 21 points in the first half and held Redlands (4-1, 1-1 SCIAC) to just 229 yards of offense to hold on for the win. Chapman gained 387 offensive yards in the game, including 226 yards on the ground against a defense that allowed 106 rushing yards total through its first four games.

In the first half, the Panthers “delivered all the punches” as head coach Bob Owens put it. Chapman’s first two drives spanned 9:37 and 7:08, respectively. Redlands went three-and-out in each of its first three drives while Chapman built a 14-0 lead. Redlands converted just one of its 10 third downs for a first.

After nine and a half minutes with the ball, the Panthers’ first drive ended on a fake field goal attempt that Redlands blew up in the backfield. The attempted fake was an appropriate start for a game that would later be changed by special teams trick plays.

After a quick three-and-out, the Panthers took over on their own 30 and proceeded to march 70 yards on 15 plays over the next 7:08 for the game’s first score. Freshman Marco Reyes finished off the drive with a 12-yard TD run on third down. Reyes carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards to lead the rushing attack.

Senior Sal Ochoa III stopped Redlands’ next drive when he intercepted a third down pass at midfield to set up another scoring drive. Six plays after the interception, sophomore Reed Vettel found sophomore Spencer Corona in the back of the end zone for a 20-yard TD strike as Corona dragged his left foot to stay in for the score.

Another three-and-out for Redlands was followed by a another fumble for Chapman, setting up Redlands with a short field. The defense stood strong and completed the first half without allowing a first down as the Bulldogs settled for a field goal.

With 3:34 left in the first half, the Panthers marched down the field in 13 plays and scored with just five seconds left when Vettel hit fellow sophomore Zach Shorts on a quick four-yard route for a 21-3 lead.

Momentum changed in the third as Redlands quickly put 15 points on the board. The Bulldogs went 67 yards on five plays in their first drive, capped by a 16-yard scramble from Nathan Martinez and a 26-yard burst from Mason Carvalho for the TD.

The Panthers were headed for a three-and-out following the touchdown but freshman Owen Tapia noticed the left side of the field empty of any Bulldogs and instead tucked the ball for a 27-yard sprint and a first down. The sneak run extended the drive but it ended in a punt three plays later.

The Bulldogs took over on their own 23 but went 77 yards over the next 14 plays and pulled within five when Martinez hit Noah McFadden for the 13-yard TD.

The Panthers were able to sustain a drive for their next two possessions but stalled just past midfield on both. The defense forced three-and-outs on Redlands’ next two drives.

With time dwindling down, the Bulldogs tried to pull off a trick play of their own as the punter appeared to limp off with a pulled muscle. Eric Kump sprinted in to take over but instead threw a long pass down the right sideline. Sophomore Wyatt Hardin was waiting to field the punt but instead sprinted over and picked off the pass near midfield to set the Panthers up with a potentially game-sealing drive.

With Chapman marching down the field, Jeff Hector forced a fumble as Chapman entered the red zone to breathe life back into Redlands’ hopes. A 29-yard run from Carvalho moved the ball into Chapman territory but junior Dillon Keefe dragged down Martinez for a sack on the next play.

Two quick passes set up a fourth-and-four and it was Keefe again to stop the Bulldogs’ drive. He tackled Carvalho in the backfield and Chapman ran out the clock to seal the win.

Keefe led the Panthers with 10 tackles and their only sack of the game. Junior Cody Masterson had three total tackles with all three coming behind the line of scrimmage.

The Panthers will head out on the road for the first time since their opening week to face Occidental at 3 p.m. next Saturday.

–Courtesy Chapman sports information