Strong finish for Panthers
By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
The LaGrange College Panthers closed the season with a flourish.
With their second straight road win, the Panthers finished the season at 5-5, giving them their third non-losing season in school history.
The Panthers dominated the action on both sides of the ball en route to a 37-9 victory over Averett (Va.).
The win also allowed the Panthers to finish with a 5-3 record in the USA South.
The Panthers’ hopes of winning the conference title ended with back-to-back losses to Methodist and Christopher Newport by a combined five points, but they bounced back the next week to beat Ferrum 10-3 before finishing the season with the win over Averett.
A defense that struggled through the first seven games only gave up a combined 25 points in the final three games.
Senior linebacker Andre Carter, who had a spectacular collegiate career, had 10 tackles, allowing him to finish with more than 100 tackles for the first time.
Carter led the Panthers in tackles the past three seasons.
LaGrange College’s offense, meanwhile, came to life on Saturday, with quarterback Graham Craig wrapping up his sensational junior season with 333 yards and three touchdowns.
Craig set school records with 3,576 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, and he was among the NCAA Division III leaders in a handful of categories.
Griffin Roelle, Craig’s favorite target this season, had six catches for 100 yards with a touchdown, and Marsalis Jackson also had six catches and a touchdown.
Craig’s other scoring pass went to Ervens Oge.
Marquius Young and Shaqualm McCoy each had touchdown runs for the Panthers, and Young ran for 74 yards.
The game was competitive at the half, with the Panthers holding a 16-9 lead, but they outscored Averett 21-0 in the second half to win going away.
The Panthers’ first possession ended in a punt, but they scored touchdowns the next two times they had the ball.
Craig threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Oge for the first score, and Craig found Roelle for a 21-yard touchdown on the next possession, and the Panthers were up 13-0.
A Will Jeffcoat 26-yard field goal gave the Panthers a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Averett scored the next nine points to get within seven at the half.
The Panthers padded their lead with a 43-yard scoring pass from Craig to Marsalis Jackson late in the third quarter, and McCoy and Young had touchdown runs of 22 and four yards, respectively, in the fourth quarter to put it away.
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