Poets put together strong first half in loss to Chapman

Poets put together strong first half in loss to Chapman

Photo by: Tony Leon/

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team opened up Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play Saturday as they fell 54-14 to Chapman University inside Memorial Stadium.

The Purple & Gold are still seeking their first victory on the season as they drop to 0-3, 0-1 SCIAC.  Chapman moves to 2-1, 1-0 SCIAC.

Whittier put up all of their points in the first half en route to threatening the Panthers at intermission 20-14.  They scored their first touchdown late in the first quarter, which deadlocked the game at 7-7.  Following a Cooper Allen (Visalia, Calif.) punt of 42 yards, Chapman returner Nathan Parkin would mishandle the catch fumbling it before having it recovered by Christian Elias (Walnut, Calif.) at the CU two-yard line.  This gave the Poets new life with 4:47 to play and they would capitalize as Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.) would rush it in from a yard out.

The very next drive for Chapman, they would retake the lead going 71 yards on 11-plays covering 4:21 but with a missed extra point the score would move to 13-7.

The Poets looked to keep the momentum going on their very next series getting an 18-yard rush from Avina and an eight-yard pass completion to Alex Retana (Whittier, Calif.) getting deep into Chapman territory.  But the threat would end on 2nd and 18 when Avina would get hit sending his pass attempt into the arms of Nathan Parkin who would return it back to mid-field.  But on the very next play, the Poets would get the ball right back this time from Cameron Smith (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) who would pick off Ian Fieber before returning it 15-yards to the CU49.

With 9:28 to play in the half CU would get the ball back after stopping the Poets on downs within the redzone.  They would then take the ball and march into Poet territory before getting stuffed on 4th and 1 giving the ball right back to WC.  With under 5:00 minutes to play, CU got a big play from Nicholas Callen as he scampered down the far sideline for a 52-yard touchdown run moving the score to 20-7 but those wouldn't be the final points put up before the break.

Whittier got the ball back with 2:28 to play and they pushed in 10-plays covering 76 yards.  Avina hit Hakim Williams Jr. (Covina, Calif.) for two completions (15 yards/19 yards) and then rushed for 13 yards on 3rd and 13 that got a fresh set of downs for the Poets.  After that he found Brian Phelan (Chino Hills, Calif.) for nine yards and then connected with Moises Gonzalez (Long Beach, Calif.) over the middle for a 27-yard hook-up cutting the deficit to a one score game.

In the second half it was all Chapman outscoring Whittier 34-0.  They put up 20 points in the 3rd quarter and another 14 in the 4th that put the game out of reach.  A 51-yard kickoff return by Nico Ragas setup the Panthers in the second half for an early score and then Fieber connected with Trevor Vill for 82-yards to end the third. 

Avina led the offense going 12-for-25 for 125 yards and a touchdown.  Retana led the backfield with 12 attempts for 59 yards with a long of 22 and Williams Jr. hauled in four catches for 69 yards averaging 17.3 yards per catch.  Gonzalez had a big day returning bringing in seven kickoff returns totaling 114 yards averaging 16.3 yards per return with a long being of 24.   

Whittier totaled 260 yards of offense (136 Passing/124 Rushing), was 9 of 17 on third down and totaled 129 return yards.   

On the defensive side Andrew Rosales (Pico Rivera, Calif.) finished with 11 tackles (9 solo/2 assisted) and a pass breakup.  Israel Cruz (Las Vegas, NV) added six solo tackles and Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV) and Smith each added five tackles (4 solo/1 assisted).                                       

Whittier has a big showdown this Saturday, October 6 when they travel to take on Occidental College in the annual "Shoes" game.  Kick-off is set for 1:00pm.  Last year's match-up the Tigers forfeited due to small numbers.