Receivers shine for Panthers

Published 2:02 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Coming into the season, Marcus Campbell figured to be LaGrange College’s top receiver, and he has been.

Campbell, a senior, was the only returning wide receiver who saw any significant action last season.

The question was, who besides Campbell would step up to give quarterback Connor Blair another big-time target in the passing game?

Austin Sapp has been that man.

While Campbell leads the team with 26 catches, and he had a monster day on Saturday against Brevard, Sapp has been terrific as well.

After making six catches for 101 yards with a touchdown against Brevard, Sapp has 16 receptions for 196 yards in four games.

Sapp has an amazing average of 49 yards per catch, and he surpassed that with his 55-yard scoring reception on Saturday that helped the Panthers seal the 38-28 win.

“I’m so proud of Austin Sapp,” LaGrange College head coach Steve Pardue said. “He’s having a great year. To be honest in the spring, I didn’t think he’d be in the rotation. But he’s been playing great.”

With the game on the line on Saturday, Sapp’s number was called.

The Panthers had a second-down play from their own 45-yard line with less than four minutes remaining, and they were nursing a three-point lead.

Rather than go conservative and attempt to run some clock, the Panthers went for the home-run ball, and that play paid huge dividends.

Sapp got behind Brevard’s defense, and Blair threw a perfect pass for a 55-yard touchdown, and the Panthers led by 10.

“How we lined up, the play originally wasn’t called (for me),” Sapp said. “We saw the safeties come down, and we checked into it. We knew we had man across, and that’s a play we practiced all week. So when we checked to it, yeah, it was my number.”

As good a day as Sapp had, Campbell’s was even better.

Campbell had seven catches for 210 yards, and he had an 80-yard touchdown reception on the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage in the second half.

Campbell has 26 receptions, and he averages 17.6 yards every time he makes a catch.

Blair’s third-favorite target this season has been running back Nicholas Searcy, who has nine catches for 75 yards with a touchdown, and wide receiver David Apiag has eight catches with a touchdown.

Brendan Thomas and Kiontai Button each has seven receptions and have combined for three touchdowns.

Thomas’ lone touchdown catch came on Saturday.

Djeimon Owens has a touchdown catch, as does Juwan Brown.