Now, the Panthers will try to keep the good times going on their home field.
After getting huge road wins over Christopher Newport (Va.) and Maryville (Tenn.) the past two weeks, the Panthers will look to make it three in a row when they host Methodist Saturday at 1 p.m. in a USA South game.
The Panthers (3-4) overall are in a tie for first place in the conference with a 3-1 record.
If the Panthers win their final three regular-season games, they will win the conference championship, but head coach Todd Mooney said no one is thinking about that.
“With conference play, it fits with the philosophy we have, and that’s one game at a time,” Mooney said. “We talked to them about that. You have to win to get to the next challenge.”
Methodist (2-5 overall) brings an 0-4 conference record into the game, although the Monarchs have been competitive in most of those games.
Methodist lost 34-33 to Greensboro, 28-24 to Maryville and 21-13 to Ferrum.
“The thing that we’ve been talking to our players about is, when you look at this team on film, it doesn’t match the record,” Mooney said. “They are extremely talented. They run really well, and they play a very physical brand of football. For whatever reason, they haven’t come out on the right end of the win column several times.”
After what happened in their most recent home game, the Panthers aren’t likely to look past anyone.
After getting a big win over North Carolina-Wesleyan in their conference opener, the Panthers lost to a previously winless Averett team 14-7 on homecoming to fall to 1-4.
“On film, you don’t have to look too hard to figure out that these guys better be respected,” Mooney said. “They can play.”
The Panthers have responded brilliantly to that loss to Averett.
One week after that loss, LaGrange College knocked off defending conference champion and preseason favorite Christopher Newport 20-6.
Last week, in a matchup of teams with just one conference loss, LaGrange College edged Maryville 17-13.
“We’re thrilled with where they have come from after the tough start,” Mooney said. “They’ve hung in and believe in some things that they chose to believe in as a team. We’ve gotten better, we’ve gotten better, and we’ve gotten better, and we’ve stopped some of the mistakes that hurt us, and we’ve started creating our own good situations. And then we’ve capitalized on those. That’s got us winning.”
The Panthers have it working in all phases at the moment.
Defensively, the Panthers have only given up 39 points in their past four games.
“They have put all the working parts together, and they are feeding off each other,” Mooney said of the defensive players. “That’s exactly what needed to happen.”
Offensively, the Panthers are making it happen with a punishing running game, with running back Kent Gibson and quarterback Ed Russ leading the way.
The Panthers are also getting it done on special teams behind the coaching of Marcus Blandingburg.
“Marcus does a heck of a job with it,” Mooney said. “His energy level is absolutely perfect. He works them about as hard as he can work them. He’s tough on them, and they respond.”
Add it all up, and the Panthers are a dangerous football team and a serious threat to win the conference title and earn an invitation to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
First things first, though.
If the Panthers were to lose today, their conference-title hopes would likely be lost.
“If you don’t win this round, you don’t move on,” Mooney said. “So, they’re pretty locked into that.”