WHITTIER, Calif. – Down 35-34 with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Chapman University football team rallied with two touchdowns in the last seven minutes to pull out a 49-35 road win over Whittier College on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in the season's first SCIAC game.
Faced with a one-point fourth quarter deficit, sophomore RB Jeremiah McKibbins scored the go-ahead touchdown from one yard out with 6:53 remaining and Chapman then converted the two-point conversion to push its lead to 42-35. McKibbins' touchdown came less than two minutes after Whittier (1-2) took the lead 35-34 on an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior QB Chris Lopez to senior WR Dameron Fooks with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With a 35-34 lead and Whittier driving in Chapman territory, junior DB Josh Irvin intercepted Lopez's pass at Chapman's 29-yard line which gave the ball back to a Chapman running attack which racked up 303 yards on 45 attempts. Irvin's interception was the second time Lopez was intercepted in the game with the other coming from freshman Ethan Weinstein.
As the team had all game, Chapman (2-1) turned to its rushing attack and experienced offensive line on the game's decisive drive and McKibbins delivered with a 4-yard touchdown to cap a 7-play, 46 yard drive with 2:20 remaining and give Chapman the 49-35 victory. Of the seven plays, McKibbins rushed six times for 34 yards. The sophomore had a school-record five rushing touchdowns and ran for 251 yards on 31 carries. His 251 yards fell just 11 yards short of the school record set by Mike Christensen in 2008, also against Whittier. Of the highest individual rushing performances in Chapman school history, all three have come against Whittier as have four of the top five.
Earlier in the game Chapman built a 20-14 lead at halftime with scores from McKibbins and a 21-yard touchdown pass from freshman QB Andrew Chavez to senior TE Sean Denney. Chavez went the distance at quarterback for Chapman as he completed 14-of-25 passes for 163 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.
Chapman also added a pair of field goals in the first half from senior K Mauricio Alfonso who became Chapman's career leader, now with 20. Whittier scored a TD in the first quarter to even the score at 7-7 on a run by junior Anthony Walker and again in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead on a 16-yard pass from freshman QB Steven Rivera to senior WR Blake Tillis.
After back-to-back touchdowns – one rushing, one receiving – in third quarter by senior RB Kimble Tillman, Whittier had its largest lead of the game at 29-20 with 7:57 remaining in the third quarter. Tillman had 129 yards receiving on seven catches for Whittier. Down 29-20, Chapman narrowed the lead to 29-27 on a 16-yard touchdown run by McKibbins with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter.
Then with 12:55 remaining in the game, Chapman took a 34-29 lead on a 2-yard run by McKibbins. On the drive McKibbins broke loose for an 85-yard run which tied the school record for longest run from scrimmage.
On defense for Chapman, sophomore LB Brett Hornstein had a team-high 11 tackles with two tackles for loss and one sack while senior LB Michael Mehlhaff and junior LB Wade Minshew each had eight tackles. Chapman's defense held Whittier, the nation's No. 2 offense, 56 yards under its season average of 585.5 yards.
Chapman returns home to Ernie Chapman Stadium Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. for its Homecoming Game against Pomona-Pitzer
by Chris Watts
Sports Information Assistant