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Chapman clinches SCIAC title with shootout victory over Cal Lutheran

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ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University football team clinched at least a share of the SCIAC Championship with a 46-38 win over Cal Lutheran (5-2, 3-2 SCIAC) on Saturday night. The Panthers (5-2, 5-0 SCIAC) remain undefeated in SCIAC play and are crowned the champions for the second time since entering the conference in 2012.

The Panthers also clinched the SCIAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Football Championship for the second time in four years.

Cal Lutheran went up early with an interception and a return that put them on Chapman's two-yard line. Senior Chris Beeson ran the ball in for a touchdown two plays later, putting the Kingsmen up just 1:14 into the game.

Chapman responded with 13 straight points. Senior Ricky Bautista connected with freshman Nico Ragas for a 15-yard touchdown on the following drive but the PAT was blocked, leaving the Panthers trailing 7-6. With just over a minute left to play in the first quarter, senior Joe Mudie took the ball 70 yards for his first touchdown of the night to put Chapman up 13-7.

Chapman held the lead for the rest of the game, putting up 40 points in the first three quarters and racking up 540 total offensive yards for their fifth 500-plus yard game of the season. Both offenses went off in a shootout that featured over 1,000 yards of total offense.

Mudie led the offensive charge for Chapman 153 yards on the ground to go along with seven catches for 94 yards and another TD through the air. His two touchdowns came on a 70-yard run and a 51-yard pass. Bautista tied his school record with six touchdowns. Despite throwing a pair of interceptions – his first since the opening game of the season – he was 22-of-28 on the night.

Bautista's favorite target was again senior Jacob Isabel, who hauled in eight catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He caught a 15 yards pass in the third quarter and scored the Panthers final points with a big 41-yard play that ended in the end zone.

Offensively, Cal Lutheran also posted more than 500 offensive yards but the Panthers held the Kingsmen to just 79 yards rushing. Adam Friederichsen was 26-of-44 with 439 yards and three touchdowns. He found Aaron Lacombe nine times for a total of 176 yards and a score. However, the Kingsmen were limited to 79 yards rushing – 59 of which came on one play from Chris Beeson.

With the offenses lighting up the scoreboard, it was the Chapman defense that sealed the championship when senior Lincoln Faletoi tipped Friederichsen's pass and came down with it for an interception in the final minute. He was met on the sideline by a mob of his teammates, and Bautista kneeled to run out the clock and clinch the SCIAC title.

Senior Derek Hart caused a key fumble in the third quarter and came up with the loose ball to stop Cal Lutheran's drive as it entered Chapman territory. After allowing a late touchdown to end the first half, the defense forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter and kept Cal Lutheran off the board until the waning moments of the quarter.

In the first quarter, the Panthers also forced a key three-an-out after Bautista's second interception. Mudie broke off his long run after the ensuing punt to give the Panthers the lead.

Chapman's defensive front had a season-high six sacks, including 2.5 sacks from junior Andrew Dieken. Dieken got to Friederichsen on the Kingsmen's final drive with a huge sack. Freshman Dillon Keefe had a season-best 10 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss that sent Cal Lutheran backwards for 18 yards. Chapman's offensive line allowed just two tackles for loss and only one sack.

With the SCIAC title and AQ clinched, the Panthers close out the regular season next Saturday when they host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 7 p.m. in Chapman Stadium.

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