CHAPMAN – On homecoming night in Chapman, the 0-2 Fighting Irish got their first win of the season with a 36-21 victory over Dickinson County rival Abilene Cowboys.
Chapman kept the ball on the ground the entire game and accumulated just over 400 net yards rushing unofficially against the Cowboy defense. Irish quarterback Trevor Erickson guided Chapman’s offense smoothly up and down the field grinding up yardage and then executing five touchdown drives.
“We ran our offense pretty well,” Chapman head coach Kurt Webster said. “That’s what it’s about if you come to Chapman it’s about WE not about ME. We tried to get everybody theirs and get everybody the ball. It really determines what the opponent tries to take away.”
Not to be out done early in the game, the Cowboys rode the back of junior tail back Caleb Burt to stay in the contest. Burt took Abilene’s first offensive handoff of the first quarter and galloped 66 yards for a Cowboy score that tied the game at 6-6 before Kaleb Becker booted the point after to give Abilene a 7-6 lead after the first quarter.
“We got a little better at some things tonight,” Abilene head coach Steve Simpson said. “We still have to clean some things up. We are starting to do things better, a little at a time.”
The Irish scored first in the game when senior running back Jeremiah Laplante broke off a 29-yard touchdown run at the 4:41 mark. Laplante’s run came right after an Irish TD was nullified by a holding call on Chapman. The point after failed to give Chapman a 6-0 advantage at that point.
The Irish had two potential touchdowns negated by penalty in the opening period. The second came after a 23-yard jaunt was called back after a holding call with just seconds remaining on the clock.
“We only returned two starters on each side of the ball,” Webster said. “So we have a ton of sophomores playing. We are a team that is going to get better as the year goes on and once these guys get more experience.”
The Irish took the lead as the second quarter began on a five-yard run by sophomore Eli Riegel to give Chapman a 12-7 lead after the PAT failed. That score maintained through the rest of the period until the Cowboys threatened late in the half. Abilene’s threatened with a Jackson Randles’ pass interception by the Irish’s Erickson at defensive back.
The two North Central Kansas League rivals exchanged long touchdown runs to begin the second half. The Irish got a powerful 58-yard run for a score by Riegel. It was the second rushing touchdown for the 5-10, 175 sophomore running back. Erickson tossed a two-point conversion to junior David Schoby to put the Irish up 20-7.
Following the Irish kickoff, Abilene’s Burt took the handoff and rambled for a 56-yard score of his own that brought the Cowboys within seven at 13-20. The point after failed and the Irish led by a touchdown.
“Caleb ran really well tonight,” Simpson said. “We knew he probably could and our line gave him some holes tonight. But we still have a lot of things to clean up.”
Chapman drove the length of the field in 10 plays and following an 11-yard run by senior running back Austin Litzinger, the Irish led 26-13. Erickson tossed his second two-point conversion, this time to Laplante to go 28-13 after three quarters.
The Irish added a score, the third touchdown of the night by Riegel as he snuck in from the two-yard line early in the fourth period. Erickson ran the point after to give the Irish a 36-13 lead.
“Chapman put it all in the middle there and we just couldn’t get enough guys in there,” Simpson said. “Their quarterback is good. He handled the ball well. Their o-line is good. You have to be really disciplined to play that offense and the line makes it go for them.”
Abilene backup quarterback Jayshaun Jones went under center and completed five passes including a 19-yard scoring strike to Becker that put the Cowboys on the board. Senior Keaton Hocker ran the two-point conversion as the Cowboys drew within 21-36 with just over five minutes to play.
“Chapman had some of their backups in on defense, so we did some substituting too,” Simpson said of the second unit offense play in the fourth quarter. We got some offense going there.”
Chapman’s offense was able to run out the clock and Erickson kneeled at the Abilene 10-yard line to end the game.
Chapman improves to 1-2 and will host Clay Center this week while Abilene goes to 0-3 and will face the Class 4A ranked McPherson Bullpups in the Cowboys homecoming at Cowboy Stadium.
“Our kids battled,” Simpson said. “We did a lot of things better but some things not good enough yet.”
“Clay Center will be extremely tough,” Webster said. “They are big, they are tough and they were tied with Wamego tonight in the third quarter. It’s going to take a great week of preparation but there’s not a team on our schedule that we can’t beat if we take care of business.”
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapman 36, Abilene 21
Abilene 7 0 6 8 – 21
Chapman 6 6 16 8 – 36
Chapman – Laplante 29 run. PAT failed. (4:41)
Abilene – Burt 66 run. Becker kick. (4:24)
Chapman – Riegel five run. Run failed. (11:57)
Chapman – Riegel 58 run. Erickson pass to Schoby. (8:54)
Abilene – Burt 56 run. Kick failed. (8:33)
Chapman – Litzinger 11 run. Erickson pass to Laplante.
Chapman – Riegel two run. Erickson run. (8:43)
Abilene – Becker 10 pass from Jones. Hocker run. (5:03)