ORANGE, Calif. – For the fourth time in as many games the Chapman University football team entered the fourth quarter tied or trailing. And for the third, like a magician, the Panthers found the escape hatch. Chapman earned its third come-from-behind win of the season on Saturday night, defeating visiting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges 14-9 at Ernie Chapman Stadium.
Hanging onto that 14-9 lead, Chapman (3-1) got a big defensive stand in the final minutes of the game, stopping Claremont (2-2) on fourth-and-three from the Panthers' 5 yard line. The Stags – needing a touchdown to stay alive – nearly gained the first down, but the measurement was short by inches and Chapman held onto its five-point lead with 42 seconds remaining.
Eight minutes earlier, with Claremont leading 9-7, the Panthers capitalized on great field position to score their game winning drive. After a 25-yard punt to Claremont's own 44 yard line, Chapman orchestrated a 9-play scoring sequence capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Bret Visciglia to freshman WR Spencer Jordan. That score put the Panthers up for good at 14-9 with 8:58 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It looked as though Claremont would score on its first possession of the game as the Stags lined up for 25-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter only to have it blocked by the Panthers and the game remained scoreless after one quarter.
Chapman had taken a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter when Visciglia connected with sophomore TE Brian Kirwan on a 12-yard touchdown pass at the 14:14 mark. It was the first time this season the Panthers have scored first against any opponent.
Visciglia completed 20 of 35 passes in the game for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
The Stags scored on their ensuing drive, marching 80 yards on 12 plays and receiving a 6-yard scoring run from senior RB Alex Wheatley to knot the score at 7-7. Wheatley would finish the night with 104 yards rushing, averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
But the Panthers got a bad break on their next possession as an errant snap on a punt attempt sailed through their own endzone for a safety giving the Stags a 9-7 lead with 5:33 remaining. The score remained that way going into halftime and all the way until the fourth quarter.
The Chapman defense, one week removed from surrendering 473 total yards and 35 points to Pomona-Pitzer, keyed Saturday night's victory over Claremont. The Panthers allowed just 277 yards and one touchdown, including stopping the Stags on the pivotal fourth down attempt in the final minute of the game.
Sophomore LBs Wade Minshew and Anthony Ferraro led the Panthers with six tackles each.
Chapman is 3-1 to begin the season for the first time since 2008.