ORANGE, Calif. – Trailing by a point for the entire fourth quarter, the Chapman University football team rallied for the victory with 7 seconds left – getting a game winning 32-yard field goal from junior K Mauricio Alfonso – to defeat visiting Whitworth University 16-14 at Ernie Chapman Stadium on Saturday night. The Panthers defeated the Pirates for the first time ever and won their season opener for the fourth time in five years.
Alfonso's game-winner was his third field goal of the game, all coming from 30 or more yards. It marked the third time in school history the Panthers have kicked a game winning field goal in the final 10 seconds of a game – the last coming in 2003 in a 17-14 road victory over Claremont. The only other game winning field goal for the Panthers at Ernie Chapman Stadium came in 2001 on a 51-yard field goal from Matt Deter with 5 seconds remaining to defeat Azusa Pacific 27-25.
Most of the game's highlights came in the final minute of each half of an otherwise evenly-played game between the two teams. Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, Chapman captured the lead for the first time in the game when senior QB Bret Visciglia connected with junior WR Kali'i Kunitomo on a 13-yard touchdown pass making it 10-7 Panthers.
Chapman (1-0) thought it would take that lead into the locker room at halftime, but Whitworth responded quickly. Pirates' freshman QB Bryan Peterson completed a 49-yard pass to sophomore WR Connor Williams to get inside the red zone. Two plays later Peterson tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to freshman WR Austin Ehlo to regain the lead and carry a 14-10 advantage into the break.
The Panthers' defense took over from there, shutting out the Pirates on just 99 second half yards of total offense, including 31 yards rushing. Chapman's front seven on defense put pressure on Whitworth's offensive line and rookie quarterback all night recording seven tackles for loss and four QB sacks. Sophomore LB Anthony Ferraro had two sacks for 15 yards and a total of four tackles for loss.
Chapman could not find the endzone in the second half, but it didn't need to thanks to the kicking range of Alfonso. The junior – who was 7 of 9 on field goal attempts in 2010 – tied a Chapman record with three in the game and set a career-high with his 40-yard kick with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter. That pulled the Panthers to within one point at 14-13 and set up his heroics in the final seconds.
It took a big defensive stand by the Panthers early in the fourth quarter to keep the game close. Clinging to a one-point lead, the Pirates offense marched 75 yards and reached Chapman's 1 yard line. Looking to punch it in, Whitworth drew a false start penalty and then was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 5 yard line as Chapman took over on downs. Junior DT Kevin Anderson made two big stops for the Panthers to keep Whitworth from scoring again.
Visciglia was efficient in leading the Panthers on two long drives in the second half that started inside the Panthers' own 5 yard line. The senior completed 23 of 34 passes for 192 yards, including going 16 of 21 in the second half. Senior WR Mike Lambesis had a big night for Chapman, catching eight passes for 94 yards.
For Whitworth (0-1), junior RB Ronnie Thomas rushed for 118 yards on 18 carries while the rest of the Pirates' offense totaled just 2 yards on the ground.
The Panthers' victory over Whitworth was their first in five meetings all time. Chapman led for just 34 seconds the entire game.