ORANGE — The Occidental College football team had no problem moving the ball.
They were just on the wrong side of a few big plays.
Chapman had six scoring plays for more than 20 yards each — two of them for more than 40 — and Oxy fell to its newest conference opponent 44-28 at Ernie Chapman Stadium on Saturday.
The dagger was a play-action pass from Andrew Chavez to Kali'I Kunitomo on 3rd and 13 from the 30-yard line. Chavez' fake caught the Oxy defensive secondary thinking the Panthers would be conservative with the run, and Kunitomo ran a great route and reeled in an 30-yard touchdown reception to put Chapman up 38-28, sealing the game with 2:55 remaining.
Chapman's Jeremiah McKibbins, the SCIAC's leading rusher, took a 36-yard run to the end zone with less than 1 minute left to widen the margin of victory.
"You can't make those types of mistakes that we made. You just can't give them those big plays," Occidental coach Bill Redell said. "I thought the offense was pretty consistent though."
Oxy's junior quarterback was as impressive as he was last weekend against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps when he earned the SCIAC Male Student-Athlete of the Week award. Edwards completed two fourth-down passes to Tuckness to keep a 13-play, 63-yard drive alive and then hit Josh Gorlick (Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.) for a five-yard score that evened the game at 28 with 12 minutes, 54 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Edwards, who had plenty of time to throw most of the night, finished 35 for 49 with four touchdowns, two to Ryan Rodriguez (Oakley).
Markus Trujillo banged in the go-ahead field goal for the Panthers (4-1, 3-0 SCIAC) with 8:49 left in the game, making the score 31-28.
It didn't look like it would come down to the last few drives early in the game.
The Panthers hit the Tigers (1-4, 1-2 SCIAC) in the mouth in the first quarter, scoring two touchdowns just 6 minutes into the game. Chapman looked as if they'd break the game open 21-0 from the Oxy three-yard line, but Oxy corner back Devin Chapman (Dallas) forced a huge fumble, recovered by defensive end Michael Gilliam (Songtan, South Korea).
It woke the Tigers up.
On the ensuing drive, Edwards picked apart the Chapman defense for an 11-play, 99-yard scoring drive that ended in an eight-yard touchdown pass to Devin Bullock (Dallas).
Chapman's forced fumble seemed to spark the Oxy defense too. The Tigers forced the Panthers into two punts on their first two possessions of the period.
On Oxy's second drive of the quarter, Edwards led another long scoring drive — 12-plays for 80 yards — ending with Rodriguez catching a quick slant in the end zone.
Oxy, a team that has struggled mightily against the run this year, did a decent job against McKibbins, holding the sophomore Los Angeles native to 97 yards on 17 carries, a far cry from his 185 yards per game average. It wasn't until he took a screen pass 41 yards to the end zone with 2 minutes left that he really got involved.
The start of the second half looked like the beginning of the game for the Tigers. Oxy running backAustin Cheadle (Portland, Ore.) fumbled on the first play of the Tigers' opening drive and Chapman quarterback Andrew Chavez hit Kunitomo for a 19-yard touchdown on the next play.
Despite the one fumble, Cheadle had the best day any Oxy back has had this year, carrying the ball 16 times for 62 yards.
Oxy didn't go away. Tuckness caught his 18th touchdown in 13 games dating back to last season on an out route to pull Oxy within seven with 8:44 left in the third quarter. The senior Preseason All-American has four touchdowns this year despite missing time with an injury.
Oxy returns to action next Saturday at No. 12 Cal Lutheran at 1 p.m.
Oxy now leads the all-time series with Chapman by just one game, 8-7.
Chapman head coach Bob Owens picked up his 50th career win and 31st win at Chapman.