Saturday Night Slugfest
Saturday night's matchup between Chapman and Whittier could be another heavyweight battle as the top two offenses in the SCIAC (statistically) and in the nation square off. The Poets are tops in the conference and No. 2 in Division III in offensive yards (585.5 ypg), while also leading the SCIAC in rushing, passing and scoring. Meanwhile, the Chapman and Whittier defenses rank in the bottom two in the conference in total defense.
Chapman's offensive output has been rather impressive through two games. The Panthers rank 26th in the nation in rushing (241.5 ypg) and 38th in passing (274.5 ypg). It all adds up to Chapman ranking as the No. 9 offense in the country, averaging 516 yards.
A large part of Chapman's offensive success has come from its O-Line which has not allowed a quarterback sack in the first two games, leading the SCIAC and the nation.
On the flipside, the Chapman defense has been creating havoc for opposing QBs. The Panthers rank No. 8 in Division III in sacks with eight in four games and lead the SCIAC in that category. Setting the bar for Chapman have been senior DL Elliot Cooley and freshman DL Ben Wadors who each have two sacks for a combined 22 yards.
Chapman will attempt to reverse a disturbing trend in away games over the past several years. The bad news? The Panthers are currently riding a three-game road losing streak dating back almost a year to Oct. 1 when they defeated Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont. Coach Owens' troops have also lost six of their last seven road games. The good news? Chapman has won five of its last six games in Whittier and is 6-2 all-time at Memorial Stadium.
Calling His Number
The internal competition and depth at the running back position throughout training camp has been put to bed quickly in the first two games of the season. Sophomore RB Jeremiah McKibbins had never even started a game prior to this season, but has risen head and shoulders above the rest. In his first start against Puget Sound, McKibbins carried 24 times for 154 yards and two scores. Last week at Whitworth he was even better, rushing 30 times for 185 yards. He currently ranks No. 5 in all of Division III with an average of 169.5 yards per game.
Bending, Not Breaking
While Chapman's total defensive stats are near the bottom of the conference after two games, the Panthers actually rank second in the SCIAC in scoring defense, allowing just 26 points per game. A big reason has been Chapman's ability to prevent the big play on third down when opponents have been successful just 39 percent (12 of 31) in conversions.
Extra, Extra (Points)!
The Panthers' special teams are just five boots away from another school record. Chapman needs just two consecutive successful PATs to equal the school record of 54 in a row set from 2007-09. The current streak, which began in 2010, has been thanks primarily to senior PK Mauricio Alfonso who extended his school record in Week 1 by going 7-for-7 and is now 54-for-54 in his career. Sophomore PK Markus Trujillo did his part last week, going 2-for-2 at Whitworth.
Alfonso Equals Career Field Goal Mark
Alfonso's next field goal will establish a new bar for kickers in Chapman history as he will stand alone as the career leader. With a pair of field goals against Puget Sound (from 35 and 40 yards), Alfonso equaled the career mark of 18 set by Bill Hamlin from 1994-96.
Homecoming for Coach Owens
Playing in Whittier is always a homecoming of sorts for Chapman head coach Bob Owens who served as the Poets' head coach from 1996-2001, guiding them to two SCIAC championships. Since taking over at Chapman in 2006, Owens has gone 2-1 at Memorial Stadium against his old team and is 5-1 overall.
Chapman vs. Whittier
Saturday night marks the 16th meeting all-time between the two programs with Chapman winning 12 of the previous 15 games including last year's 45-22 win at Ernie Chapman Stadium. The last time these teams squared off in Whittier was in 2010 when the Panthers won 29-17. This is Chapman's first-ever SCIAC game.
Whittier in 2012
Something has to give on Saturday. Both Chapman and Whittier have defeated Puget Sound this year (both scored 55 points against the Loggers) and both lost to Whitworth by less than a touchdown. Once again, the Panthers will face one of the top receivers in the nation in senior Dameron Fooks who is No. 2 in the nation in receiving yards per game (143.5). Junior QB Chris Lopez is 6th in Division III in passing efficiency (184.2 rating) and on the ground, senior RB Rufus Osby is averaging 133 yards per game.
Chapman Football on Air
For the sixth-straight year, Chapman has partnered with the school's on-campus radio station, Chapman Radio, to broadcast eight of the nine Panthers' football games in 2012, including all four home games. The games will be streamed live on the internet at http://www.chapmanradio.com/sports. A rotation of on-air student talent will provide play-by-play and commentary for every down of Chapman football.
Whittier College will be providing live video and play-by-play statistics of Saturday night's contest through Stretch Internet and found at this link: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/whittier.portal#
by Doug Aiken
Sports Information Director