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Chapman Comes Back, Gains Tie at Redlands


REDLANDS — Chapman finally met its match on the football field, and it took an amazing finish by the Panthers to salvage a 14-14 tie with Redlands in front of 5,357 Saturday at Redlands.

The game summary shows that Todd Gragnano's seven-yard pass to Dave Poltl and Jacob Galasso's two-point conversion pass to Oscar Ford tied the score with 46 seconds remaining, but it wasn't nearly as simple as that.

Gragnano, who was playing with an injured finger on his passing hand, had moved the Panthers from their 38 to the Redlands six with three quick completions, but the Redlands defense stiffened and it was third and goal from the seven.

Ford broke open over the middle near the goal line, and Gragnano's pass hit Ford in the hands as defensive back Ricky Cummings hit him. The ball bounced up and Poltl grabbed it, and without breaking stride he stepped into the end zone.

"It was like slow-motion," said Poltl, a former Saddleback College and Capistrano Valley High receiver. "It dropped right into my hands."

On the conversion, Galasso, a running back and third-string quarterback who stepped in for Gragnano on three second-half series, took a pitch and passed to Ford for two points.

"How about that double-tip, whammy-thing?" Chapman Coach Ken Visser said. "We were getting some bad breaks throughout the game. I figured it was about time one bounced our way and by gosh it did."

And Chapman had turned a seemingly certain loss into a stirring, uh, tie.

But the Panthers (2-0-1) can't be blamed for reacting as if it was a victory. Redlands (2-0-1) was the team that was supposed to show how Chapman's neophyte program was progressing.

The returns were decidedly mixed. Chapman outgained the Bulldogs, 372-166, holding the best rushing offense in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to 109 yards, nearly 200 short of its average. Anthony Jones, who rushed for 213 yards last week, was held two 62 yards in 19 carries.

Chapman's offensive line tore into the Bulldogs, gaining 185 yards, despite the fact that starting tailback Darnell Morgan sat out much of the game because of a sore knee.

No doubt Chapman was moving the ball. However, the Panthers had five turnovers, including three on consecutive possessions in the first half.

Gragnano, who entered the game during the Panthers' third series after starting quarterback Curtis Robinson suffered a scratched eye on a tackle, had three passes intercepted. He finished 10 of 19 for 163 yards.

Redlands struck first after Chapman faked a punt on its first series. On the Bulldogs' first play from scrimmage, Jones sliced through the line to score from 19 yards, but the touchdown was called back because of an illegal procedure penalty. Four plays and a Chapman personal-foul penalty later, Matt Figueroa scored on a one-yard run. Redlands led, 7-0, only slightly more than three minutes into the game.

Redlands then took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. After Chapman's Juan Garcia fumbled on the Redlands 41, Figueroa took a draw-play handoff and ran 48 yards for the touchdown.

Bill Hamlin kicked a 24-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half and then cut the lead to 14-6 by making a 33-yarder with 8:55 left in the third quarter.

After the final drive, Visser gathered his team in the middle of the field for a short speech.

"I know no one here is satisfied with a tie," Visser said to the team. "The coaches aren't satisfied, you players aren't satisfied, but that was one of the most courageous ties I've ever seen."

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