football tem

Undefeated Panther Football Gears Up for NCAA DIII Playoffs

For the second time in three years, the Chapman University football team is headed to the postseason. The Panthers (8-0, 6-0 SCIAC) cruised to a 41-17 win over visiting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to claim at least a share of the SCIAC title and the conference’s automatic qualification in the NCAA Division III Football Championship.

The Panthers had a 27-0 lead at halftime and forced four turnovers in the dominant effort to claim the conference crown. Chapman held CMS to just 243 total yards – 217 of which came in the second half after the game was well in hand.

After turning the ball over on downs on their first possession, senior Nathan Parkin put the momentum on Chapman’s side when he stripped Brian Loudermilk, Jr. on CMS’ second play and fell on the fumble for the first turnover of the game.

Chapman marched down the field and scored on each of its next four drives before halftime to build the sizeable 27-0 lead. Four different Panthers scored the four TDs on the ground with freshman Marcos Reyes, sophomore Tanner Mendoza, sophomore Reed Vettel and junior Jonston MacIntyre all finding the end zone.

The Panthers’ defense allowed the Stags just 26 yards of offense in the first half and only three first downs. The run-heavy Stags’ offense had gone a yard backward in the box score on 16 attempts while converting just three first downs.

In the second quarter, sophomore Duncan Heger and senior Sal Ochoa III stopped back-to-back CMS drives with interceptions of bad passes down the field. Both INTs came on third down as CMS QB Zach Fogel faced heavy pressure from the Panthers’ defense.

Fogel was sacked four times in the game and the Panthers were in the backfield for nine total tackles for loss. Keefe had two sacks and three tackles for loss to lead the effort up front. Senior Noah Kjos and Ricky Medeiros also got to Fogel to aid in their Senior Day celebrations.

The early part of the third quarter saw the Panthers continue to dominate both sides of the ball. After three-and-out on the opening drive for CMS, MacIntyre found junior Nico Ragas all alone in the end zone just two plays later for a 30-yard score. Ragas also took a CMS kick back 94 yards for his third career kick return TD.

After Ragas’ kick return made it 41-3, Parkin ended CMS’ next drive with his fifth takeaway of the last two weeks. He made a leaping one-handed grab to pull in his fifth interception of the season.

With the game well in hand and the clock ticking toward a SCIAC title, CMS found the end zone for two late scores.

Mendoza led the Panthers with 80 rushing yards on 15 carries while MacIntyre carried the ball seven times for 58 yards. Chapman racked up 237 rushing yards and threw just 17 passes, completing seven of them for 108 yards. CMS was able to put up yards late in the game to get to 129 yards on the ground on 41 attempts.

The Panthers locked up the SCIAC title for the second time in three years and continued the best start in school history by improving to 8-0.

Chapman will try to finish off a perfect season and win its third outright SCIAC Championship with a trip to La Verne next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.