ORANGE, CA -- Mauricio Alfonso kicked a 32-yard field goal with 6.8 seconds left in the game to lift Chapman to a 16-14 win over visiting Whitworth in the football opener for both schools on Saturday night at Ernie Chapman Stadium.
The Pirates dropped their third straight season-opening contest. The host Panthers earned their first win over Whitworth in five tries.
Fernando Noriega's interception deep in Whitworth territory with less then four minutes to play appeared to secure a win for the Pirates, but the Panther defense forced a quick three-and-out and Chapman took over in Whitworth territory with 1:22 to go.
Whitworth scored on its first and last drives of the first half to take a 14-10 lead into halftime. Ronnie Thomas broke off a 53-yard run to set up the Pirates' first score of the game. Zac Hill finished off the drive with a six-yard touchdown fade pass to Austin Ehlo.
Chapman answered with a 31-yard field goal by Alfonso on its opening drive.
Then the defenses took over. Neither team scored again in the half until Chapman's Bret Visciglia passed 13 yards to Kali'i Kunitomo for the Panthers' first touchdown with only 28 seconds left in the second quarter. But Whitworth answered quickly after Bryan Peterson found Connor Williams for a 49 yard pass down the right sideline. Two plays later Peterson hit Ehlo for a 12-yard touchdown with one second left to give Whitworth the 14-10 lead.
Chapman pulled within 14-13 on Alfonso's 40 yard field goal in the third quarter, the only points of the period.
Whitworth had a chance to extend its lead midway through the fourth quarter after driving 73 yards deep into Chapman territory. The Pirates had first and goal on the Panther four yard line. After three runs by Thomas it was fourth down inside the one yard line. But a false start penalty moved the Bucs back five yards and place kicker Drew Goranson was stopped on the three yard line as Whitworth tried a fake field goal.
Chapman finished with a 308-269 advantage in total offense. The Pirates only had 81 yards in the second half.
Panther QB Visciglia completed 23 of 34 passes for 192 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Mike Lambesis caught eight of those passes for 94 yards.
Peterson was 11-13 for 139 yards in his first game as a Pirate. Hill, who started, completed 4-8 for 23 yards. Both had a TD pass and neither threw an interception. Jake DeGooyer caught six passes for 55 yards and Ehlo had four catches, including the two touchdowns, in his Pirate debut.
Thomas, a junior transfer, finished with 116 yards rushing in his first Whitworth game. But 94 of those yards came before halftime.
The Pirates will try to bounce back next Saturday when they host Pomona-Pitzer in the home-opener, the first of six contests in the Whitworth Pine Bowl in 2011.