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Chapman Football Comes Crashing to Earth

September 20, 1997|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

During Chapman's first three seasons, football Coach Ken Visser compiled a 21-5-1 record and was always on the winning side of blowouts.

But last week, Western Washington administered a 35-0 beating to Chapman, the first shutout and easily the worst loss in Visser's four-year tenure.

Since football was reinstated at Chapman in 1994, three of the losses were by three points or fewer to La Verne. The others were a 13-point loss last season to St. Mary's, 42-29, and a 10-point loss in 1994 to Occidental, 30-20.

But last week's result wasn't totally unexpected, considering Western Washington is the top-ranked team in the NAIA.

Visser and the Panthers won't have time to dwell on the blowout since Willamette (Ore.) rolls in for Chapman's home opener at 7 tonight.

Last season, Western Washington edged Willamette, 13-12, in the NAIA playoffs. This season, Willamette is ranked 10th in the NAIA after beating Humboldt State, 42-14, in its home opener last week.

"Here we go again," Visser said. "We're playing a team that has an identical situation to Western Washington. Our goal is to get better each week and improve."

The Panthers will start by forgetting some of the lowlights from their season-opening loss:

* Chapman set school records for fewest total yards (54), fewest rushing yards (36), and fewest passing yards (18). The Panthers gained only four yards in the first half and managed only five first downs in the game.

* The running backs struggled. Jimmy Perry gained 25 yards in five carries and Keijuan Grubbs gained only nine yards in seven carries. The Panthers averaged 1.1 yard per carry.

* Quarterback Greg Hyland never found his rhythm. He completed three of 12 passes for 18 yards, connecting more often with Western Washington's defenders by tossing a school-record five interceptions. Last season, Hyland had only three passes intercepted in 53 attempts.

Still, Visser found some encouraging signs.

"The defense played with a lot of courage at times," Visser said. "Offensively, when you break it down on film, you always discover that you're never quite as bad or as good as you thought you were.

"I'm pleased at how the kids have responded. They've kept their chins up."

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