By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
October 20, 2013
Another day, another monster passing performance from LaGrange College quarterback Graham Craig.
In Saturday’s 44-40 victory over Huntingdon College at Callaway Stadium, Craig delivered a masterpiece performance.
The junior completed 24-of-36 passes for 420 yards, and he threw five touchdown passes and just one interception.
Craig got a lot of players involved, with eight different Panthers catching at least one pass.
Marsalis Jackson, the big-play sophomore wide receiver, had five catches for 171 yards, an average of 34 yards a catch.
Jackson also had two touchdown catches, including a 66-yarder late in the third quarter that jump-started the comeback after Huntingdon had gone up by 20 points.
Junior Griffin Roelle had 10 catches for 93 yards with a touchdown, and freshman Ervens Oge had three receptions with a touchdown.
Running back Shaqualm McCoy only had one catch, and it went for a touchdown, and fellow running back Marquius Young had a pair of catches for 51 yards.
McCoy also had a touchdown run, and he had 87 yards on 12 attempts, good for a 7.2-yard average.
LaGrange College’s offense was especially potent late.
After the Hawks built a 37-17 lead, the Panthers scored touchdowns on their final four possessions.
“We can score anytime I feel like,” Jackson said. “As long as we’re clicking, we can score against anybody.”
Craig has fit in nicely in offensive coordinator Matt Mumme’s “air-raid” attack.
In six games, Craig has completed 61 percent of his passes, and he is averaging 395 yards per game through the air.
Craig also has 24 touchdowns, an average of three per game.
Roelle has been Craig’s favorite target with 33 catches, but Oge is just one behind with 32 catches.
Jackson has 21 catches, and Ed Russ, the starting quarterback last season, has 17 receptions.
Josh Hardrick has 16 catches, and Young has 11.
CONFERENCE UPDATE: The Maryville Scots are leading the way in the USA South, but there are a bunch of teams on their heels, including the LaGrange College Panthers.
The Scots (6-1 overall), who got a big 30-17 win over Christopher Newport on Saturday, are the conference’s only unbeaten team with a 4-0 record.
The Panthers (3-3 overall) are one of four teams in the conference with just one loss.
After Saturday’s win over Huntingdon, the Panthers are 3-1 in the conference, and Huntingdon, Methodist and Ferrum are each 2-1 in conference play.
Christopher Newport is 1-2, Greensboro and North Carolina Wesleyan are both 1-3, and Averett is 0-4.
LaGrange College faces a key road test against Methodist on Saturday before returning home the following week to play Christopher Newport.
The Panthers end the season against Ferrum and Averett.
“There are really good football teams in this conference,” LaGrange College head coach Todd Mooney said. “It’s not one of those deals where half the conference is one place, and half the conference is in another. If you’re not ready to go every week, it’s going to be rough.”
CLOSING STRONG: In last week’s loss to Maryville, LaGrange College had a tough second half in a 47-35 loss.
The Panthers were up 28-26 at the half, but they gave up 21 straight points in the second half before breaking through for a touchdown late in the game.
Wide receiver Ervens Oge said a key focus in practice last week was making sure there wouldn’t be a repeat of that poor second-half effort.
“We didn’t finish in the second half (against Maryville),” Oge said. “In practice, we knew what we had to do. We had to finish the game.”
The Panthers finished with a flourish, outscoring the Hawks 34-13 in the second half to get the conference win.
The Panthers trailed 27-10 at the half.
Head coach Todd Mooney said he told his players to keep plugging away in the second half no matter what happens.
“I told them at halftime, we have to get a defensive stop, and we have to score, and we have to do it again,” Mooney said. “And there are going to be roller-coasters in between, but we’ve got to stay focused on what we need to do. Those guys did exactly what they needed to do.”