For the first week of the football season it was Chaffey College's offense that carried the team. The past two weeks the Panthers defense has taken the reins as host Chaffey won, 20-17 over San Bernardino Valley to open up Foothill Conference play.
"I felt we were ready to play them," said Chaffey coach Carl Beach. "This was a conference game and a big rivalry. We played well enough to win, but still made some big mistakes."
San Bernardino Valley (1-2, 0-1) got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Chaffey linebacker Ricky Shepard sacked Wolverines quarterback Nick Foita causing a fumble recovered by Panthers linebacker Ryan Tolan. Just like the first win of the season over Mt. San Antonio, Chaffey's defense came up big against the Wolverines when it needed to and the offense ran out the clock to end the game.
Foita led the offense with yards passing and 104 yards on the ground, including both touchdown runs.
We gave up some easy touchdowns," said Beach. "One was on a quarterback sneak that went up the middle for a 52-yard touchdown. We weren't lined up in the right spot."
In the first quarter kicker Zach Bussey got into the Chaffey record books with a 53-yard field goal, with plenty of room to spare to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
"Zach has got a long leg and he's a major college kicker," said Beach. "We'll usually have him kick if the ball is outside the 25 and definitely outside the 30."
Chaffey has two hard-working capable kickers and the second one is Johnathon Palmer. Later in the first quarter Palmer nailed a 32-yard kick. Beach alternates his kickers because they both practice hard, even if it doesn't look impressive in the statistics.
"I wasn't particularly happy, although we had played hard," said Beach about the Panthers 6-3 halftime lead. "We made some defensive errors, muffed a punt and threw an interception."
Beach said he knew the Panthers were the better team, but just didn't mentally gear up for the game. Overall Chaffey played pretty well except for two or three plays.
"Even though it was close I never thought we had lost control of the game," said Beach. "We never gave up the lead."
Every time the Panthers seemed to break the game open the Wolverines would scratch their way back. Chaffey enjoyed leads of 13-3, 13-10, 20-10 and 20-17. Chaffey running back John Bogarin scored on runs of 4 and 2 yards and gained 33 yards on nine carries. Devon Hudspeth paced the attack with 42 yards on 14 carries.
Panthers quarterback Jeff Disney completed 17 of 31 passes for 195 yards. Jeremiah Cockerhan paced all receives with four catches for 64 yards, while teammate Nick King added three grabs for 45 yards.
On Saturday at 7 p.m. the Panthers will play at Antelope Valley, also undefeated at 3-0.
"We don't have any false impressions about Antelope Valley," said Beach. "Their team is for real and are looking to become conference champions. They haven't been good for a long time. They have a lot of good players with experience and speed at the skill positions."
Antelope Valley quarterback Cory Allred has a good command of the game and shows leadership on the field, said Beach. The Marauders like to run early and currently lead the conference with 215 yards on the ground per game. Antelope Valley's balanced attack has also scored a conference-leading 44.3 points per game. Allred is capable of throwing accurately in the Marauders' spread offense.
Chaffey's offense will face a stiff test as the Marauders' defense yield only 217.7 yards per game, to pace the Foothill Conference. The Marauders have also give up the fewest points so far at 47 in three games.
"Antelope Valley has something to prove," said Beach. "It's always difficult to play up there. They're coached well and play hard all the time