SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University held off a late rally by Chapman University to defeat the defending SCIAC champions 31-28 on Puryear Field in the Whitworth Pine Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
After scoring 24 straight points to grab a 24-7 lead heading to the fourth quarter, the Pirates made two key late stops to improve to 2-0. Transfer QB Ian Fieber threw for 460 yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers (1-1), but he was intercepted four times.
Jaylen Gonzales and Shai Pulawa had two interceptions each for the Whitworth defense. Chad Wilburg had two sacks, including one on the final play of the game.
The game started well for Chapman. Linebacker Dillon Keefe made three straight tackles for loss, forcing a Whitworth three and out. On the Panthers’ second play from scrimmage, Fieber hit Dominic Vaccher for a 52-yard touchdown.
After three punts and an interception, Whitworth finally tied the game when QB Leif Ericksen ran through an open line of scrimmage for a four-yard TD run, capping a 96-yard drive that was sparked by the Bucs’ hurry-up attack.
After Tyler Adamson blocked his second field goal of the season to end Chapman’s next possession, Whitworth drove 80 yards and scored when Erickson hit Bryce Powers with a 14-yard TD pass while falling backwards. Kevin Ramsey added a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to give Whitworth a 17-7 lead at the break.
The Pirates scored six minutes into the third quarter on Conner Johnson’s 16-yard run on fourth and one. It was the backup QB’s second touchdown run in as many weeks for the Bucs.
Chapman’s scoring drought ended on the first play of the fourth quarter when Fieber threw a three-yard fade pass to Trevor Vill in the back corner of the endzone. Adamson blocked his second kick of the day.
After forcing a Whitworth three-and-out, the Panthers went 61 yards to score on Fieber’s three-yard run. A successful two-point conversion pulled Chapman to within 24-21.
Needing an answer, the Pirates got one from senior RB Mason Elms. Elms, who ran for two touchdowns in the season-opener, broke through the line and raced up the right sideline for a 46-yard scoring run to give the Bucs another ten-point lead (31-21) with 11 minutes to play.
The Panthers scored their final TD when Fieber hit Vill with a six-yard pass to cap a 62-yard drive. There was only 1:59 left in the game and Whitworth recovered the on-sides kick. Chapman forced a final punt and took over on its 17 with 21 seconds left. After getting to the 41, Wilburg sacked Fieber to end the game.
Ericksen completed 26 of 42 passes for 324 yards. All were career-highs. He tossed one touchdown, ran for one touchdown and had one interception. Garrett McKay caught seven passes for 132 yards, while Taylor Kolste caught five first-half passes for 49 yards.
Elms finished with 73 yards rushing on 13 attempts with one touchdown.
Fieber completed 43 of 64 passes for 460 yards. His three TD passes and one TD run were offset by the four interceptions, the last two of which came in the fourth quarter. Vaccher caught 13 passes for 133 yards and a score, while Vill had 12 grabs for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
Chapman outgained Whitworth 520 – 422 and had a 34:15 – 25:45 advantage in time of possession. But the Pirates finished with a 4-1 edge in turnovers.
Jayden Jira led the Pirate defense with 17 tackles and he broke up a pass. Zach Hillman had ten stops. Pulawa finished with eight tackles to go with his two interceptions. Gonzales had seven tackles with his pair of picks. Wilburg made seven tackles, including three for losses of 16 yards. Kale Wong made eight tackles, including a key tackle for loss on fourth and one inside the Whitworth redzone.
Keefe led the Panthers’ defense with ten tackles, including 4.5 for losses of 18 yards. Sal Ochoa also had ten stops. Matt Layton had Chapman’s one interception.
The Pirates have now won seven of the ten games with the Panthers.
Whitworth will get another bye this coming Saturday to prepare to host defending Northwest Conference champion Linfield in the Pine Bowl on September 29th.