THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - After the Cal Lutheran football team put the finishing touches on a 27-6 home win over Chapman on Saturday, it watched Claremont-Mudd-Scripps upend Occidental and secure a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs for the Kingsmen for the second consecutive season and second time in program history.
Box Score: CLU 27, CU 6 - F
With its final regular season game set for next week against Occidental, CLU can do no worse than tie Redlands for the conference title, but the Kingsmen hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with their win over the Bulldogs earlier in the season, therefore ensuring CLU football will again make a postseason appearance.
A win over Occidental next Saturday would guarantee an outright SCIAC title for the second season in a row.
Although it was a 21-point victory, CLU played below its potential on Saturday in the opinion of head coach Ben McEnroe.
"Obviously winning ugly beats losing pretty any day of the week," McEnroe said. "It was one of our least inspired efforts but we found a way to gut it out and do the things that it took to win."
The Kingsmen defense held the Panthers to just two field goals on the day with a 22-yarder in the first quarter and a 30-yard make in the third.
While the CLU offense put up a season-low 236 total yards, the defense held the Panthers to just 219 yards and six points is the second lowest score for an opponent of the Kingsmen this season.
The Kingsmen trailed at the end of the first quarter 3-0, just the second time this season CLU has been down at the first break, the other coming in the team's only loss of the season at Pacific Lutheran.
However, CLU was in the Chapman red zone at the end of the first and after back-to-back penalties it settled for a 40-yard field goal by Jackson Damron to even the score early in the second.
In the red zone the Kingsmen scored on all four of its trips including a pair of Damron field goals and two Eric Rogers touchdown receptions.
Rogers hauled in a five-yard strike from Jake Laudenslayer midway through the second quarter that gave CLU a 10-3 advantage that it held at halftime. The sophomore wide receiver added a six-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter giving him a team-best seven on the season and eclipsing his freshman total of five in 2009.
The Kingsmen built their lead to ten after Damron's second field goal as the 38-yard attempt capped the opening drive of the second half.
The Panthers answered with a 14-play, 67-yard drive that lasted six minutes and ended with a 30-yard field goal from Mauricio Alfonso.
Chapman held the ball for 33:04, the longest time of possession for a CLU opponent this season and it was helped out by a Kingsmen defense that extended drives as it committed four penalties that resulted in Chapman first downs.
CLU would score on its next possession as well as they held the ball for over five minutes, carrying the drive into the fourth quarter when Laudenslayer hit Rogers on a second-and-goal from the six, putting the Kingsmen up 20-6.
Midway through the fourth quarter after Chapman had driven 66 yards on 11 plays the Kingsmen defense came up with the only turnover of the game. On the Kingsmen 13 yard line CU quarterback Bret Visciglia had his pass hit off the outstretched hand of his receiver and went up into the air where CLU's Broc Galbreth picked it off and raced it 46 yards down field to secure the Kingsmen win.
Deme'Trek Chambers would put an exclamation on the game with a 37-yard touchdown run that put him over the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in his six starts. He finished with 104 yards on 18 carries and the touchdown was his conference-leading 12th of the season.
Laudenslayer ended up 18-for-23 with 132 yards and two touchdowns. Rogers who was on the recveiving end of the scoring passes hauled in six catches for 39 yards to lead the team in both categories.
Seniors Carlton Richard, Victor Lara and Jake Speckhard each made three catches and totaled 34, 24 and 13 receiving yards, respectively.
Linebacker Loren Powers who entered the game tied for the team lead in tackles led the way with nine stops. Jordan Barta made six tackles including a half sack that pushed his season sack total to nine.
Galbreth's interception was his second of the season and Jeff Miller added a sack that gives him four for the year.
Cal Lutheran (7-1, 5-0 SCIAC) will now try and capture its second ever and second consecutive outright SCIAC title on Nov. 13 when it hosts Occidental at 1 p.m. It will be the final game ever played at Mt. Clef Stadium, the only stadium to host the Kingsmen football program and the site of the 1971 NAIA Division II National Championship won by CLU.