Whitworth Holds Off Chapman in Home Opener

Paul Miller gets set to return his first kickoff 49 yards into Chapman Territory.
Paul Miller gets set to return his first kickoff 49 yards into Chapman Territory.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Chapman's potential game-tying field goal with no time left on the clock went wide left, allowing Whitworth to hold on for a 17-14 win in its 2012 home-opening football game on Saturday afternoon at the Whitworth Pine Bowl.

The Pirates improved to 4-0 while the visiting Panthers fell to 1-1 after seeing a first attempt at the tying field goal wiped out by a holding penalty as time expired.

Whitworth was able to rally from a 14-7 halftime deficit when an injury-riddled defense held the same Chapman offense that scored 55 points in its season-opener two weeks ago scoreless after halftime.

Ronnie Thomas ran for 134 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown to lead the Pirate offense.  Paul Miller had a huge game for the defense with ten solo tackles.

The Panthers won the battle of statistics, outgaining Whitworth 417-288 while holding an advantage of 24-13 in first downs and a slight edge in time of possession.  But two missed field goals would haunt Chapman as the Panthers only scored once in three trips to the red zone.

The Panthers went ahead 7-0 when QB Kean Stancil found wide receiver Robin Harris wide open down the right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown pass on their second possession of the game.

But Whitworth answered right back, set up by Miller's long kickoff return to Chapman territory and a 15-yard penalty.  Bryan Peterson's 19-yard touchdown pass to Connor Williams capped a 29-yard drive.

The both defenses took over for the rest of the half until the Panthers took a 14-7 lead after finishing off their best drive of the game.  Chapman went 71 yards on eight plays with running back Jeremiah McKibbins doing most of the damage on the ground.  Stancil would run in from four yards out on third and goal with 2:23 to play before halftime.

Thomas quickly answered on the Pirates' second play of the third quarter, breaking away for a 69-yard touchdown run.  He took advantage of some good downfield blocking by the wide receivers.

The defenses took over again, forcing three straight punts by each team. 

Whitworth finally moved the ball on a drive that started very early in the fourth quarter, getting to the Chapman six yard line.  But a potential touchdown pass was dropped in the back of the endzone and Robert Thullen kicked what became the game-winning field goal from 23 yards with 10:12 to play in the game.

Chapman's then went on its longest drive of the second half, moving 51 yards to the Whitworth 24 yard line.  But Casey Monahan intercepted Stancil in the endzone with 4:11 to play and it appeared the Pirates would be able to clinch the game.

The Panther defense forced a quick three and out, giving the offense a final chance.  Stancil would not return to the game for the final possession and freshman Andrew Chavez was forced to negotiate the final drive with 2:21 to play.  He went 4-8 for 37 yards, converting a pair of long third down passes, helping march his team to the Pirate six with two seconds left. 

Markus Trujillo, the Panthers' back up kicker, had missed from 45 yards in the fourth quarter.  But he drilled what appeared to be the tying kick from 23 yards as time expired.  However the Chapman offense was flagged for holding on the play, wiping out the kick.  After moving back ten yards, Trujillo missed wide left on a 33-yard effort.

Leading kicker Mauricio Alfonso also doubles as the Panthers' top scorer on the soccer team and he remained behind in California for a key soccer match.

Thomas finished with 134 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown.  Peterson completed 12 of 20 passes for 134 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  Jake DeGooyer caught five of those passes for 62 yards.

McKibbins led the Panthers with 185 yards rushing on 30 carries.  Stancil completed 16 of 25 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  Harris caught five passes for 89 yards and a score.

Miller added a tackle-for-loss and a pass breakup to his game-high ten tackles.  Tevin Tyus had recorded eight tackles for the Bucs before he was taken off in an ambulance with an apparent broken ankle early in the third quarter.  Monahan's interception was his second of the season.

Kellen Matsuno led the Chapman defense with eight tackles, while Wade Minshew finished with seven stops.

The Pirates are now 5-1 all-time against the Panthers, 3-0 in Spokane. 

Whitworth will open Northwest Conference play next Saturday at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.