ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University football team ran for 259 yards and three rushing touchdowns and the defense forced a pair of turnovers and scored a touchdown as well to lift the team to a 45-22 Homecoming win over Whittier College at Saturday night at Wilson Field. With the win, the Panthers are now 4-1 for the first time since 1996 and are 5-1 in Homecoming games under head coach Bob Owens.
With a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, the Panthers extended their lead to 14-0 when senior QB Bret Visciglia hit junior Kali'i Kunitomo for a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 12:54 mark. Whittier (1-4) answered right back with a quick touchdown of its own as junior QB Kelly McGuire found senior WR Oreese Hoyes for a 47-yard touchdown pass. Despite the big play, Chapman's secondary limited Whittier to 110 yards through the air.
After a Chapman interception and a three-and-out by Whittier, the Panthers extended their lead to 17-7 with a field goal from junior K Mauricio Alfonso with 5:53 remaining in the second quarter. Just before halftime, freshman DB Jordan Williams intercepted an errant pass from McGuire at Whittier's 35-yard line and returned it 30 yards which set up another Chapman touchdown. On the ensuing play, Milburn ran in from five yards out to give Chapman a 24-7 lead at halftime. Milburn ran for a career-high 120 yards on the night with 95 yards coming in the first half.
Whittier scored on its first drive of the second half behind the running of sophomore RB Donell Griffin Jr. After runs of five and 52 yards, Griffin capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run at the 13:10 mark of the third quarter to narrow the scored to 24-14. Griffin rushed for a game-high 167 yards on 30 carries accounting for nearly half the Poets' offense.
The Panthers came back with touchdowns on two of their next three possessions to build a 38-14 third quarter lead. Visciglia and Kunitomo connected for the first of the Panthers two third-quarter touchdowns. Sophomore QB Michael Lahey broke loose for a 53-yard touchdown run on the Panthers' only play of the possession to get the second touchdown. Kunitomo finished with a game-high five catches for 81 yards and two scores.
With 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Griffin scored the Poets' last touchdown of the night, making the score 38-22 after the successful two-point conversion. The Poets outscored Chapman 15-14 in the third quarter.
With 10:16 remaining in the game, junior LB Mike Mehlhaff returned a blocked punt by freshman LB Greg Johnson for a touchdown to give the Panthers the 45-22 win. Mehlhaff had a game-high 10 tackles including two tackles for loss.
Saturday night's game marked the first time this season that Chapman did not have to come from behind to get the win.
Chad Milburn postgame interview
Coach Owens postgame interview
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by Chris Watts
Sports Information Assistant