Poets pounced on by Panthers 45-22
Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
ORANGE, Calif. – On a night full of homecoming extravaganzas, a firework display, a marching band, and a raucous crowd of over 3,000 strong, the Whittier College Poets were unable to come away with the victory despite fighting the entire game.
Junior Kelly Maguire got the start at quarterback for the first time this season and finished 3-14 for 68 yards and a touchdown as the Poets' Chris Lopez was hampered by a shoulder injury. At the start of the game, the Poets won the toss but differed to the second half, allowing Chapman to start with the ball first.
On their first series, the Panthers went down the field in seven plays for 82 yards and a two yard touchdown run from Chad Milburn that put Chapman up 7-0. Deep in the redzone, the Poets had Chapman at 3rd and 6 and Alex Mitchell deflected a ball that would have forced Chapman to kick a field goal but it was later called pass interference for not playing the ball. That ended up being an automatic first down from the two yard line and from there Chapman punched it in for the first score of the game.
On the ensuing series for the Poets, sophomore Donell Griffin Jr. started in the backfield and carried the load for the Purple and Gold as he carried the ball on five straight plays for 25 yards, helping Whittier move down the field. But after a Maguire incomplete pass and a penalty Whittier was forced to punt.
At the start of the second quarter, Chapman started with the ball at their own 27, but they marched down the field in seven plays for 85 yards and finished with a 29 yard scoring strike from Bret Visciglia to Kali'i Kunitomo to put Chapman up 14-0.
But Whittier continued to fight and began playing a more up tempo style of game and on the ensuing series, Macguire connected with senior Oreese Hoyes down the seam for a 47 yard touchdown reception that cut the Chapman lead to 14-7. Hoyes for the game finished with three receptions for 62 yards.
Griffin Jr. had his best game of the season as he helped Whittier stay in the game as he rushed 30 times for 163 yards and two scores with a long being of 52.
Chapman then took the ball on the next possession and began going down the field collecting three first downs in the process. Visciglia then tried airing it out into the end zone for one of his receivers but Poet sophomore Justin Carter went up and collected his first interception of the season denying Chapman an opportunity to put points on the board.
Whittier then took the ball and went down the field and on a 3rd and 1, Maguire found a wide open Kimble Tillman up the sideline that would have been a game tying touchdown that would have changed the momentum going into the half, but he overthrew him forcing Keaton Herrera to punt the ball away.
Tillman for the game had nine rushes for 45 yards, while collecting two kickoffs returns for 34 yards.
In the second half, Whittier marched down the field after a nice return from Mitchell as Griffin Jr. busted through a hole and went 52 yards setting up his 5 yard touchdown run cutting the Chapman lead to 10.
Whittier then forced an ensuing three and out from Chapman and on their next series, Lopez came into the game and marched Whittier down the field yet again but had it stopped short as he fumbled a ball that he recovered, and then being flagged for an illegal forward pass.
Chapman then tacked on two more touchdowns that ran their lead to 38-14, but Whittier wouldn't go away as Lopez led the offense down the field in 12 plays for 69 yards thanks to a strong rushing attack from Griffin Jr. and Malik Henderson who continued to pound the ball up the middle. At the end of the series, Griffin Jr. added his second touchdown of the day from three yards out and Lopez added the two-point conversion.
Late in the fourth quarter, Whittier had an opportunity to get more points on the board as Griffin Jr. led Whittier to a 1st and goal from the Chapman 10 but they ended up coming away empty.
On the defensive side of the ball, Whittier was led by San Jose State transfer Charles Scicli who collected seven solo tackles and two assists, while at the same time breaking up a pass.
Driskell came away with six tackles, while Anderson had two.
On the evening, Whittier had numerous opportunities to put points on the board and to come away with the win, but they were unable to convert when they had to.
Whittier returns to the gridiron as they return to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium for Homecoming to take on the Stags of Claremont-M-S, Saturday, October 22 beginning at 3pm.