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Football has strong first half; Defense totals three takeaways against Chapman

Football has strong first half; Defense totals three takeaways against Chapman

Photo by: Tony Leon/

ORANGE, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team got off to a strong start Saturday night looking to spoil Chapman University's Homecoming but couldn't keep it going in the second half as they fell 36-6. 

The Purple & Gold now drop to .500 at 2-2, 0-1 SCIAC, while Chapman remains perfect on the year at 3-0, 1-0 SCIAC.

It was a story of two halves for the Poets who held the high-powered Panther offense to just 15 points in the first half as they trailed 15-6 at the break.  CU got on the scoreboard first after earning a punt block on Whittier's opening series giving them great field position at the WC 8.  Marcos Reyes would then capitalize scoring from a yard out making the score 8-0. 

On their next series Whittier moved the ball down the field nicely going 64-yards in nine plays thanks to a 49-yard hook-up from Miguel Avina (Indio, Calif.) to Hakim Williams Jr. (Riverside, Calif.) down the sideline.  This set up the Purple & Gold on the CU 10 but they couldn't come away with any points as their 27-yard field goal would miss short.

After a Chapman turnover on downs, which was forced by the WC defensive unit, Whittier got the ball right back on their own 30.  But they couldn't get anything going as Avina would get picked off setting up the Panthers for their second touchdown of the quarter coming from Reyes who ran it in from 12-yards out. 

In the second quarter the Poets' defensive unit stood tough again as Oscar Aliaga (Las Vegas, NV) would force a fumble and recover it stopping a deep Chapman drive.  This gave the ball back to the Poets who would go 16-yards in six plays before having to punt.  The ensuing kick would make its way down to the CU 1 and gathered by Vinny Caffaro.  But he would fumble being stripped by Williams Jr.  setting WC up with a first and goal from the one-yard line, which would be converted by Avina, which would make it 15-6. 

Whittier had another opportunity to put points up on the board right before the half after Aliaga forced and recovered his second fumble for the game giving Whittier the ball at their own 35.  They would march down the field in 4:42 covering 51-yards in 13-plays but again couldn't get any points out of it electing to go for it on 4th and 3 at the CU 14, which they would turnover on downs. 

In the second half Whittier saw Chapman put up 21 points and were only able to get into the redzone once, which they would again turnover on downs from the CU 9.  Two of their four offensive possessions went backwards as the Panthers controlled time of possession. 

Whittier was held to just 274 yards of total offense with 88 of them coming on the ground.  Avina was 13-for-33 for 186 yards, while throwing two picks and ran it 11 times for just a yard and a touchdown.  He also took over punting duties as he totaled three kicks for 111 yards averaging 37 yards per punt, which included a long being of 47.        

Alex Retana (Whittier, Calif.) led the ground attack collecting 83 yards on 17-attempts averaging 4.9 yards per carry.  Williams Jr. registered five catches for 129 yards with a long being of 49.  He averaged 25.8 yards per catch.

Defensively the Poets were tough forcing three turnovers.  Jacob Hayes (Chino Hills, Calif.) finished with 10 tackles, Aliaga added eight tackles with two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a pass break-up.  Sean Hamilton (Henderson, NV) added eight tackles with two going for losses and Meda Mazon (Riverside, Calif.) in his first game back from injury added seven tackles.  For the game Whittier totaled six tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and a pair of pass break-ups.                            

Whittier returns home next Saturday, October 12 for Homecoming as they host Occidental College for the annual "Shoes" Game with kick-off set for 1:00pm.