After thumping North Carolina Wesleyan 41-14 last week to improve to 1-3, the Panthers will host Averett (Va.) Saturday in a second consecutive USA South conference game.
It’ll be homecoming day for the Panthers, with kickoff set for 1 p.m.
LaGrange College head coach Todd Mooney said the mindset of the players is the same as it was after opening the season with three losses.
“They’re tough, they’re resilient, their mind is on the big picture,” Mooney said. “We got back here and got back to work like we always do. It wasn’t hard to get their attention.”
Still, there’s no doubt Mooney, the rest of the coaches and the players were thrilled to get that breakthrough win, especially since it came in the team’s conference debut.
“It was great,” running back Kent Gibson said. “Now it’s time to build on that. We hope it can snowball.”
Added fellow running back Michael Jones: “I believe that hunger we had to get that one, that really drove us to get over that jump. Now we just have to stay on top of it.”
Last week, the Panthers took charge from the start by going up 14-0, and they put it away with two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers had more than 400 yards of offense, including 310 on the ground, and they recovered five fumbles on defense, one of which was returned 12 yards for a touchdown by Scott Chewning.
“We finally created some of our own breaks,” Mooney said. “And when we did, we made the plays we needed to to make points.”
As for today’s game, Mooney said “we have to keep playing aggressive football, and we have to get better at the little things. That’s what it’s all about.”
Averett is a struggling ball club.
The Cougars are 0-4, and they’re coming off a 49-28 loss to Ferrum in their USA South debut.
The Cougars have been involved mostly in close games, though.
They were overmatched a bit against Ferrum, falling behind 35-7 before scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns, but in their other three losses they were within two or fewer touchdowns at the end.
“This team, they’re powerful when they want to be,” Mooney said. “They have really good skill on both sides of the ball. They’ve got some big players. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that they have a tradition of being successful.”
Mooney also said the Cougars, like his team, have faced a tremendously difficult schedule.
“They’re a lot like we were. We had lost some games, but we lost some games to some pretty tough people,” Mooney said. “Their record is no way indicative of the kind of football team they are. Knowing coach (Mike Dunlevy) as I do, he’s going to have those guys ready to play.”
Adding to the enjoyment of the weekend, it’ll be homecoming with all the special activities that come with that.
Mooney said the school always does a tremendous job with homecoming.
“It’s always neat,” Mooney said. “The college, the people that organize homecoming and all that goes into it, they do such a great job. The whole thing is special. You can tell by the number of people who attend, who come back, all the way through the college and all the different disciplines. Not just athletics, but everywhere. It’s become a really big deal. And that’s special. For any student, I think it’s fantastic.”