After facing two outstanding football teams the first two weeks of the season, the Panthers now turn their attention to a Huntingdon College team that is scoring nearly 50 points a game.
The two teams play on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.
“They’re always a very strong team, and they’re always very well-coached,” LaGrange College head coach Todd Money said. “They play super hard. That’s one thing you can count on every year is they’re going to come with their best effort, no matter what.”
The Panthers come into the Huntingdon game reeling.
After falling to Birmingham Southern 41-14 in the opener, the Panthers were beaten by Millsaps 51-7 last week.
It was a 7-0 game after the first quarter, but Millsaps scorred 24 points in the second quarter to take a 31-7 lead at the half.
The Panthers got as close as 17-7 after a Kent Gibson 27-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but Millsaps scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the first half to take all the momentum into the break.
The Majors scored a touchdown with 46 seconds left in the half, and after LaGrange College fumbled the ensuing kickoff, they scored again just 22 seconds later.
“When things went wrong, they went about as wrong as you can go,” Mooney said.
After a loss like that, Mooney said “it’s not hard to get their attention. They know some mistakes happened, and they see on film what we need to work on. They bounced back right away and have gotten after it.
“They know that they’re a better football team than what happened. They also know they can’t change what happened. All they can do is fix what happened this week.”
Mooney said when he and the other coaches hit the recruiting trail, they not only look for guys who can handle the rigors of college football, but they also try to find men of high character who won’t fold when things go poorly.
Mooney said having guys like that on the team makes it easier to recover from a blowout loss.
“We’ve done a pretty good job in the recruiting process of finding talent, and also of identifying character,” Mooney said.
As for this week’s challenge, it’s a big one.
Facing a ranked Birmingham Southern team last week, the Hawks were held scoreless in the first quarter, but they scored 38 points the rest of the game, with 28 of those points coming in the second half.
Quarterback Neal Posey completed 26-of-42 passes for 388 yards with two touchdowns, and he spread the ball around to eight different receivers, including Ephraim Johnson, who had nine catches and two touchdowns.
The Hawks also got a 161-yard rushing effort out of Trevor Manuel, who carried the ball 36 times.
“They’re the number 10 team in offense in the nation right now,” senior defensive lineman Daniel Garrett said. “It’s a big challenge, but it’s one that we’re up for.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, are struggling to find their offensive rhythm.
They moved the ball fairly well against Birmingham Southern and had more than 300 yards, but they were limited to 211 yards and the one touchdown last week.
Senior running back Kent Gibson has a team-high 148 rushing yards this season, and he has one touchdown.
Quarterback Ed Russ has run for 130 yards, but he has struggled in the passing game, completing 38 percent of his passes for 206 yards.
The Panthers are also looking to turn things up on defense after allowing an average of 423 yards in the first two games.
Mooney said all you can do is hit the practice field and try to improve.
“You have to pack your lunch and go to work,” he said.