Record-setting day for Panthers’ quarterback

Published 10:52 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It was only a matter of time.

Connor Blair was going to set the school’s career record for passing yards at some point this season, the only question was when it would happen.

Saturday was the day.

With his huge effort in the win over Brevard, Blair has surpassed Drew Carter as the school’s all-time leader in yards.

Blair now has 7,494 yards, surpassing Carter, who finished his career with 7,298 yards.

Blair was one of the most prolific passers in NCAA Division III the past two seasons, and while he hasn’t maintained that pace this year, he’s still putting up big numbers.

Blair has completed 82-of-127 passes for 1,090 yards with 10 touchdowns, and he had his best game of the season against Brevard.

Blair was 25-of-35 for 432 yards with four touchdowns in the 38-28 win, so he broke the record in style.

Blair has made a smooth transition to the new Wing T offense that was brought in by new head coach Steve Pardue.

In past years, Blair ran the Air Raid offense under previous head coach Matt Mumme, and he operated out of the shotgun while throwing the ball more than 50 times per game.

“Learning this whole new offense, that was big, because I’d never been under center,” Blair said. “So this is a new and fun time for me.”

Austin Sapp, who had more than 100 receiving yards against Brevard, said Blair has done a great job of adapting to the new system.

“It’s a big change from last year, but I can tell Connor is settling into it well, and the coaches are working with him,” Sapp said. “We have good receivers, and good running backs, and our line is picking it up.”

Also on Saturday, Marcus Campbell set the program’s single-game record for receiving yards.

Campbell had seven catches for a record 210 yards, easily beating Marsalis Jackson’s previous record of 172 yards.

Also, Campbell tied a school record for longest scoring play when he had an 80-yard touchdown catch on the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage in the second half.

GAME-CLINCHING PLAY: The outcome was still somewhat in doubt as Brevard lined up for a field goal with a little more than a minute to play.

Brevard trailed by 10, so it could have kicked the field goal, recovered an onside kick, and scored a touchdown to tie it.

LaGrange College’s Bryan Oliver made sure that couldn’t happen.

On the 25-yard attempt, Oliver came racing through untouched, and he got his hand on the ball for the block to seal the victory.

“I’m so proud of our guys blocking that field goal,” Pardue said. “We worked tremendously hard on that in practice this week.”

DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Joshua Rivers and Rayshaun Bagsby tied for team-high honors in tackles on Saturday with six apiece, and Bagsby had one for loss.

Fabian Ryan had five tackles, and Demetrius Rodgers had four tackles with a sack.

Andrew Brown and Emmanuel Hopkins each had one tackle for loss.

WINNING STREAK: For the first time since early in the 2014 season, the Panthers are on a winning streak.

LaGrange College opened that season with back-to-back overtime wins over Birmingham Southern and Berry College.

The Panthers couldn’t string consecutive wins together the rest of 2014, and they went 2-7 a year ago and didn’t win two in a row.

LaGrange College ended that streak on Saturday when it beat Brevard 38-28 to make it two in a row.

LaGrange College (2-2) beat Methodist 39-30 the previous week for its first win of the season.

UP NEXT: LaGrange College will return to USA South play on Saturday with a road game against Averett (Va.).

LaGrange College is 1-0 in the conference after beating Methodist 39-30 on Sept. 16.