Whatever words of encouragement Chapman coach Ken Visser may have prepared for halftime Saturday night became unnecessary before the Panthers even made it to the locker room.
Chapman players provided themselves with pep enough for the second half and then some, returning a missed field-goal attempt 100 yards for a half-ending touchdown and then holding on for a 29-20 victory over Howard Payne of Texas in the home opener at Ernie Chapman Stadium.
With the game tied, 13-13, and three seconds remaining in the first half, Howard Payne kicker Jeff Peden attempted a 49-yard field goal, but came up short. Chapman's Mark Hastings caught the ball on the goal line and carried it 67 yards before lateraling to Lorrin Ellis, who took it the final 33 yards for a touchdown.
"As soon as I got the ball, I just ran instinctively," Hastings said. "The guys set up a great wall for me and I only had to hurdle one tackle before I was gone."
Visser said he couldn't have asked for a better second-half motivator.
"That was a huge boost, not because we scored at the end of the half, but because it was a remarkable play," he said.
Chapman's Edward Romo capped a 63-yard drive to open the second half with a 27-yard field goal and Chapman's defense took it from there.
Dino Rossi intercepted Yellow Jacket quarterback Wes St. Aubin's first pass of the second half and Chapman's defense caused St. Aubin to misfire on his next five pass attempts.
"The defense won the game for us tonight, no question about it," Visser said. "They did a fine job of adjusting at halftime."
The Yellow Jackets (1-2) got the ball on their own nine-yard line with three minutes remaining and trailing, 26-20, but Ellis tackled Richard Green for a loss of three yards on fourth-and-one to end the threat.
On offense, Stanley Villanueva paced the Panthers (2-1), completing 15 of 22 passes for two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Green rushed for 173 yards in 28 carries for Howard Payne, but save for one 41-yard run, he was held to 35 yards in the second half.
During a ceremony at halftime, the Panthers renamed their stadium for the grandson of C.C. Chapman, who founded the university in 1861.