ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University football team fought off a 21-point second half La Verne rally for a 35-28 Homecoming victory on Saturday night at Wilson Field. The Panthers second win in a row – fifth in a row vs. La Verne dating back to 2006 - improves their record to .500 for the first time this season.
The Chapman - La Verne rivalry continued its exciting history as another game came down to the final minutes. The Leopards, down 28-7 entering the second half, scored 21 unanswered points only to have Chapman score the game-winning touchdown with 3:22 left in the game.
With the score tied 28-28 and 5:08 remaining, junior QB Bret Visciglia led the Panthers on a four-play, 52-yard drive in 1:53, capped off by a 5-yard run from junior RB Al White. To set up the touchdown, Visciglia connected with senior RB Akio Lloyd on a 42-yard pass play.
Chapman's offense started the game hot. After the opening kickoff, they scored on an 11-play, 6:59 drive that ended in a rushing touchdown by Visciglia. The junior QB had a strong first half going 16-for-19 with two passing touchdowns but played sparingly in the second half before leading the Panthers on the game-winning drive.
La Verne (0-6) countered with a lengthy drive of its own taking the opening possession 73 yards and capping it off with a 6-yard run by junior WR Allen Daniels to tie the game 7-7 at the 3:41 mark of the first quarter.
Chapman (3-3) again marched the ball down the field for a long touchdown scoring drive as Visciglia and junior WR Mike Lambesis connected on an 18-yard pass play. Lambesis finished the game with 87 yards on seven receptions.
In the second quarter, Chapman took advantage of key turnovers by La Verne to increase its lead. After a fumble by Leopards' RB Erek Brown at the La Verne 40-yard line which was recovered by Panthers' sophomore DT Ross Campbell, the Panthers scored again to go up 21-7. It took just over two minutes for the Panthers to drive 40 yards and score on an 8-yard touchdown run by Lloyd.
La Verne threatened on its ensuing drive moving the ball all the way to the Chapman 6-yard line but Chapman forced another turnover. This time junior LB Erick Mueller came up with the turnover as he intercepted a Thomas Arguello pass at the 2-yard line. Chapman's defense came up big several times in the first half as they held La Verne scoreless on three different red zone possessions. Mueller had seven tackles to go along with the interception and freshman LB Wade Minshew racked up a game-high 13 tackles to go along 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
Chapman built its lead to 28-7 with 2:32 before halftime on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Visciglia to senior WR Chris Langstaff. The Visciglia-Langstaff connection was showcased in the first half as Langstaff pulled in nine receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. With 133 yards receiving total on Saturday night, Langstaff surpassed former Panthers Brandon Koller and Martrice Stephens, moving up to second on Chapman's career receiving yards list.
Chapman led 28-7 at halftime but the 21-point halftime cushion was short lived. The Leopards came out in the second half and scored quickly on a 12-yard touchdown run by Brown to tighten the score to 28-14 with 6:21 left in the third quarter.
Chapman's offense went on another long drive to the La Verne's 30 yard line but turned the ball over on downs. After the change of possession, La Verne faced a fourth down conversion of its own on their 39 yard line. La Verne converted its opportunity as they handed the ball to FB Paul Koloa who rumbled and stumbled for a 55-yard run to the Chapman 6-yard line. Koloa who played a few downs on offense at full back is listed as the team's starting defensive tackle and had four tackles on the night. The Leopards later closed the score to 28-21 on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Arguello to junior WR Matt Griffin.
The Panthers put together another long offensive drive, except this drive ended in a missed 44-yard field goal attempt. Chapman then forced a La Verne three and out, but fumbled the punt giving the ball back to the Leopards at Chapman's 36-yard line. The Leopards then evened the score at 28-28 with 6:12 left in the game on another touchdown pass from Arguello, this time to freshman WR David Kain. Arguello was 21-of-27 on the night for 279 yards and two touchdowns.
Saturday night's victory pushes Chapman to 2-1 at home while keeping La Verne winless for the 2010 season. La Verne's last victory came in 2008 against Whittier. Chapman will play host to Occidental next Saturday at 7 p.m. on a Halloween weekend at Wilson Field.
For post-game interviews of Visciglia and Coach
Owens, please visit our Chapman University Athletics Facebook
by Robert Flicker
Sports Information Intern