By: By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
September 29, 2013
He looked up, saw the ball headed his way, and went airborne.
When LaGrange College receiver Griffin Roelle landed, he was in the end zone, the ball was in his hands, and his team had a 35-7 lead over Greensboro in Saturday’s game at Callaway Stadium.
That fourth-quarter play was part of a remarkable afternoon for Roelle, a freshman receiver from Lassiter High School in Marietta.
On a day when 11 different players caught passes from quarterback Graham Craig, Roelle managed to haul in eight catches for 103 yards with three touchdowns, including the 41-yard catch in the fourth quarter that capped the scoring for the Panthers.
On the final catch, Roelle said another receiver was also in the vicinity.
“He kind of went on the right hash, so I wasn’t sure who was going to get it,” said Roelle, who has 18 catches for the season with five touchdowns. “I started looking, and I thought, this is mine. I wanted it. I saw it there, so I took it.”
While Roelle was the leading receiver on the day, there were plenty of other catches to go around.
Freshman Marsalis Jackson had three catches for 73 yards with a touchdown, and another freshman, Ervens Oge, had four catches for 71 yards.
Josh Hardrick and Ed Russ each had three catches, and Shaqualm McCoy had a pair of receptions.
As potent as the Panthers were offensively, Roelle felt there were plenty of points left on the field.
“We should put up a lot more points,” he said. “I feel like we should have hung up 60 points. But we can fix it. And we’ll start scoring more points.”
FAST START: When offensive coordinator Matt Mumme was hired as the LaGrange College offensive coordinator, he immediately set out installing his “air raid” offense, which relies heavily on the passing game.
Finding a quarterback to run the offense was a critical step, and the Panthers seem to have found the right man for the job.
Graham Craig, who transferred to LaGrange College from Valdosta State, which runs a similar offense, has enjoyed a remarkable start to his career as a Panther.
After throwing for more than 300 yards on Saturday against Greensboro, Craig has now amassed more than 1,100 yards with 11 touchdowns in just three games.
Against Greensboro, Craig enjoyed an efficient day, completing 28-of-40 passes for 344 yards with four touchdowns.
For the season, Craig has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,147 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Three of those interceptions came in the first half of the season opener against Birmingham-Southern.
HIS USUAL DAY: Linebacker Andre Carter has led the Panthers in tackles the past two seasons, so it’s not surprising to see his name atop that stat line again this year.
Against Greensboro, Carter had a nine-tackle day, including three tackles for loss, and he also broke up three passes.
For the season, Carter has 27 tackles, with seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and he also has an interception and a forced fumble.
Jordan Chambers also had a big day against Greensboro with eight solo tackles, and Scott Chewning, Jordan Daniels and Justin McIntyre each had six tackles.
CLEAN GAME: The Panthers did a lot of things right on Saturday.
Some of those things were easy to see, like the touchdown passes and the big hits, but others weren’t quite as dramatic.
Two numbers stood out for the Panthers, one, and 19.
The Panthers only had one turnover, and that came on the opening play when Craig threw an interception.
And as for the number 19, that was all the penalty yardage the Panthers had on just two infractions.
Greensboro, meanwhile, had two turnovers, and it had nine penalties for 57 yards.
UP NEXT: The Panthers will be on the road on Saturday against North Carolina-Wesleyan for a USA South game.
North Carolina-Wesleyan lost its first three games, but it beat Averett 27-24 on Saturday for its first win.
A year ago, LaGrange College beat North Carolina-Wesleyan 40-13.