By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
October 13, 2013
The LaGrange College Panthers still have a chance to win a conference championship, but their margin for error is a whole lot slimmer than it was before Saturday’s game against Maryville.
Before a big homecoming crowd at Callaway Stadium, the Panthers built a 28-26 halftime lead, but the Scots ripped off 21 straight points in the second half on the way to a 47-35 victory.
The Panthers (2-3 overall) fell to 2-1 in the USA South conference, while the Scots (5-1) remained perfect in conference play at 3-0.
While losing at home hurts, the Panthers still have a chance to win the conference.
A year ago, Maryville was one of three teams that shared the conference title with two losses.
LaGrange will try to bounce back on Saturday when it hosts rival Huntingdon in another conference game.
The Panthers appeared unstoppable offensively in the first half of Saturday’s game.
The Scots and Panthers went back-and-forth, with each team scoring four touchdowns in the first half.
Maryville missed a pair of extra points, which accounted for LaGrange College’s two-point lead.
LaGrange College quarterback Graham Craig had another big game, and he did a lot of his damage in the first half when he threw three of his four touchdown passes.
After Maryville jumped on top 7-0 on a Trenton Shuler 1-yard run, the Panthers came right back on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Craig to Josh Hardrick to cap a three-play 59-yard drive.
Later in the quarter, the Panthers went 64 yards in nine plays, with Shaqualm McCoy finishing things off with a 5-yard scoring run, and the Panthers led 14-7.
The Scots answered early in the second quarter on an Evan Pittenger 3-yard scoring run, but the extra point was missed, so the Panthers still ;ed by one.
A few minutes later the Scots took the lead on a Desh Whitlock 4-yard run, but the Panthers responded with an eight-play, 71-yard drive, with Griffin Roelle catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from Craig to give the home team a 21-20 lead.
The Scots reclaimed the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from Travis Felder, but the Panthers took it 67 yards in just four plays on the ensuing drive to take the lead again.
Most of the damage was done on a 52-yard scoring pass from Craig to freshman Ervens Oge, who had a huge day with 10 catches for 141 yards.
Maryville was driving again late in the half, but Nick Raszeja came up with the interception in the end zone, allowing the Panthers to take the two-point lead into the break.
Neither offense came close to being slowed in the first half, and it looked like it might come down to the team that had the ball last.
The Maryville defense figured some things out at the half, though.
Maryville’s offense continued to push the ball up and down the field, while LaGrange College was unable to keep up the pace.
The Scots took the lead for good on an Even Pittenger 10-yard scoring pass to Jared Miller in the third quarter, and Travis Felder’s 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter extended the lead.
The Scots all but iced the game when they picked off a Craig pass late in the fourth quarter, and Pittenger threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Ed Johnson to make it a 47-28 game with 4:25 remaining.
The Panthers finally broke through on their next possession.
Needing to score quickly, the Panthers accomplished that when Craig hit Marsalis Jackson for an 80-yard touchdown pass, and it was a 12-point game with 3:58 remaining.
The Panthers got the ball once more after a Maryville punt, but when a fourth-down play failed, the Scots were able to run out the clock.
Craig, who is averaging close to 400 yards in the air this season, was right there at that mark again on Saturday.
Craig completed 25-of-44 passes for 395 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Oge was Craig’s favorite target on Saturday with his 10 catches, and Hardrick had six receptions for 88 yards.
Jackson caught three balls for 84 yards, and Ed Russ, Roelle and Young each had two catches.
Young did some damage in the running game with 53 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, Jordan Chambers and Scott Chewning each made a big impact for the Panthers with 10 tackles apiece, and Connor McNamee had seven tackles.