EAGLE ROCK, Calif. – Turnovers and missed opportunities plagued the Chapman University football team as they lost 27-17 to Occidental College on Saturday afternoon at Jack Kemp Stadium. The Panthers committed four turnovers – two in each half – and were not able to capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities despite gaining 444 yards of total offense. After starting the season 4-1, the Panthers have now lost two games in a row.
With Chapman (4-3) ahead 17-14 midway through the third quarter, Occidental scored the game's final two touchdowns to pull out the win. First, senior QB Luke Collis found junior WR Ryan Rodriguez in the back of the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Tigers a 21-17 lead. On Occidental's next possession after a Chapman punt, Collis and Rodriguez connected for another touchdown pass, this time a 27-yarder on fourth down to push the lead to 27-17 with 6:28 remaining in the game.
With the game still in doubt, Occidental's defense picked off passes by senior QB Bret Visciglia on Chapman's next two possessions to seal the win. Visciglia was 20-for-33 for 236 yards.
In the first half, Chapman rushed out to a 3-0 lead on the opening drive of the game after junior K Mauricio Alfonso booted a 32-yard field goal with 10:07 remaining in the first quarter. Less than 90 seconds later, Occidental took the lead back on a two-yard run by junior RB Wes McDaniel to make the score 7-3. The touchdown was set up by a 69-yard pass from Collis to junior WR Matthew Tuckness that ended on Chapman's 2-yard line.
The teams then went scoreless for the rest of the half. Chapman had two drives end inside Occidental's 30 yard line because of fumbles in the first half. The first fumble came on Occidental's 21 yard line with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter after sophomore RB Jon Harris was hit by Occidental senior LB John Hansbrough. The second fumble came at the nine minute mark of the second quarter when junior RB Chad Milburn was forced into a fumble by junior LB Justin Garza at Occidental's 25-yard line.
On the last drive of the first half, Chapman used its running attack to move the ball down inside Occidental's 10 yard line but could not score. The Panthers had a broken play end with a loss on third down and then went for a touchdown on fourth down but could not convert as Visciglia's pass attempt to sophomore TE Brian Kirwan fell incomplete.
The missed scoring opportunities overshadowed the fact that Chapman's offense outgained Occidental 444-340 in the game and 208-69 on the ground. Milburn nearly reached the 100-yard mark for the third game in a row, finishing with 93 yards on 17 carries while sophomore RB Ed Harris had 89 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.
Occidental (4-3) held a 7-3 lead at halftime and pushed the lead to 14-3 on its first drive of the second half. Occidental freshman KR Teran Mawhinney returned the opening kickoff 45 yards to Chapman's 49 yard line. After a personal foul, Occidental began its drive on Chapman's 34 yard line. Five plays later Collis connected with Tuckness for a 21-yard touchdown pass giving Occidental a 14-3 lead at the 13:33 mark of the third quarter. Collis finished 23-of-34 for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
After a 31-yard kickoff return by sophomore RB Jack Dilbeck, Chapman answered back with a touchdown of its own to narrow the score to 14-10 with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter. On fourth down and one from the 1-yard line, Visciglia got in the endzone on a QB sneak up the middle.
Chapman then got the ball in Occidental territory on its next possession after Occidental attempted a fake punt and came up short. Visciglia then hit senior WR Mike Lambesis for a 16-yard gain. On the next play, Ed Harris ran up the middle of Occidental's defense for a 27-yard touchdown to give Chapman a short-lived 17-14 lead with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Occidental's opportunistic defense was led by sophomore DB Jordan Lance who had 10 tackles and an interception. The Panthers' defense held the Tigers to 69 yards rushing. Sophomore DB Cameron Cutter had a team-high seven tackles for Chapman.