Defense comes through

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

October 20, 2013

That the offense could score enough points to get back in the game was a given.

The Panthers average close to 40 points a game, and they’ve got a quarterback in Graham Craig who is throwing for nearly 400 yards per game.

With the Panthers down by 20 points in the second half, though, the question was, could the defense find a way to slow down a Huntingdon offense that for three quarters appeared unstoppable?

LaGrange College’s defense answered that question with an emphatic yes.

After the Hawks scored a touchdown late in the third quarter, their final four possessions yielded just three points.

With the defense stiffening, the LaGrange College offense did its part by scoring touchdowns on its final four possessions.

The Panthers outscored the Scots 27-3 over the final few seconds of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter to pull off the 44-40 come-from-behind win.

Sean McNamee, a senior linebacker, said that despite Huntingdon’s offensive success for much of the game, the defensive players never lost faith.

“We’d been talking all week about just believing,” McNamee said. “We felt like after that tough loss against Maryville (the week before) we needed to understand as a defense that we had to believe in each other, and (the late stops are) a testament to everybody on this defense, everybody on this team, and coach (Terry) Ursin, and just believing in each other. Being able to make those stops late in the game, that’s believing in each other.”

The Scots kicked a field goal on their first possession of the fourth quarter, but they were kept out of the end zone after driving 65 yards, which was big.

Maryville’s final three possessions ended with an interception, a punt, and a sack as time ran out.

“We knew we had to stop them and get the ball back any way possible,” sand Connor McNamee, a junior linebacker who had five tackles and a sack. “It didn’t matter what the score was, we had to keep playing defense. We had to believe.”

As is usually the case, the Panther defense was led by senior linebacker Andre Carter, who is on his way to leading the team in tackles for the third straight season.

Carter had a team-high 13 tackles, and he leads the team with 59 tackles.

Freshman linebacker Jordan Chambers also made a huge impact in the game with 12 tackles, including three for loss with two sacks.

Defensive back Scott Chewning had eight tackles, and defensive lineman Justin McIntyre had seven tackles, including two for loss.

Jordan Daniels had six tackles, and Nick Raszeja and Connor McNamee each had five tackles.

Defensive lineman Klay Cranford, meanwhile, only had one tackle, but he had an interception in the fourth quarter that played a huge part in the comeback.