Panthers continue push for title
by By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
They’re not satisfied.
Sure, the LaGrange Panthers are coming off an epic, come-from-behind win over their biggest rival, but there’s still plenty of work left to do if they’re going to achieve their goal of winning a conference championship.
The Panthers trailed the Huntingdon Hawks by 20 points late in the third quarter of last weekend’s game, but they finished with a flourish to pull off the 44-40 victory.
Now, the Panthers are set for another tough challenge as they hit the road today to take on Methodist in Fayetteville, N.C.
The Panthers (3-3 overall) are 3-1 in the USA South conference, while Methodist (4-2) is 2-1 in conference play after winning its past two games.
Methodist and LaGrange College are both chasing Maryville, which leads the conference with a 4-0 record.
The Panthers are in the midst of an extremely challenging portion of the schedule.
They played Maryville two weeks ago before taking on a strong Huntingdon team last week.
Now, LaGrange College faces a big challenge in Methodist before returning home next week to play Christopher Newport, which has dominated the conference over the years.
“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.”
The Panthers were feeling down after falling to Maryville 47-35 in a game where they led 28-26 at the half.
Then the Panthers got off to a shaky start against Huntingdon, and they trailed 27-10 at the half, and 37-17 late in the third quarter.
The Panthers dug down and pulled themselves out of the hole they found themselves in, though, outscoring the Hawks 28-3 the rest of the way to pull off the win.
Quarterback Graham Craig completed 24-of-36 passes for 420 yards with five touchdowns, earning him conference offensive player of the week honors.
The Panthers enjoyed a well-deserved celebration afterward, but when they returned to the field house on Sunday to look at the film and get ready for Methodist, it was business as usual.
“This is a great win, but we’ve got two tough teams coming up after this,” linebacker Sean McNamee said after the game. “We’re going to enjoy this tonight, but tomorrow it’s back to work.”
As for today’s opponent, Methodist has also done a nice job of bouncing back after a tough loss to Maryville.
In its conference opener, Methodist lost to Maryville 35-26, but it rebounded to get a big 24-21 win over Christopher Newport the following week.
Last week, Maryville outscored Averett 41-33 to move to 2-1 in the conference.
The Monarchs got it done with a powerful running game against Averett.
Methodist pounded out more than 400 yards on the ground, with three different players running for more than 100 yards.
While the Monarchs did it largely with the running game last week, they have had a balanced offense throughout the season.
The Monarchs average 293 passing yards, and 187 rushing yards per game, and they’re scoring 31 points a game.
Max Reber is having a terrific season at quarterback, completing 64 percent of his passes for an average of 291 yards a game with 11 touchdowns.
Reber is also the Monarchs’ second-leading rusher with 333 yards, and Darius Page has 337 rushing yards.
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