Panthers finish season with loss

Published 11:51 pm Sunday, November 12, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

They made it interesting.

Trailing by 24 points in the fourth quarter, the LaGrange College Panthers scored two touchdowns in about 10 seconds to cut Huntingdon’s lead to 10.

An onside kick with less than three minutes remaining was unsuccessful, though, and Huntingdon held on for a 27-17 victory on Saturday afternoon at Callaway Stadium.

While Huntingdon (9-1) won the USA South with a 7-0 record, LaGrange College finished at 4-6 overall, and 3-4 in the USA South.

“We’re disappointed in the outcome, but we’re really proud of the effort late,” said Steve Pardue, who put the wraps on his first season as LaGrange College’s head coach. “We battled the whole way through.”

Trailing 27-3, the Panthers went on a 62-yard scoring drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Brendon Scott with 3:03 to play.

After Kevin Hollingsworth recovered the onside kick, Connor Blair threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Austin Sapp, and just like that the Panthers were within 10 with 2:51 to play.

After Huntingdon recovered the onside kick, it was able to run out the clock.

“You look back on it, and we have a turnover on the 1-yard line, and one inside the 10-yard line in the first half,” Pardue said. “So you’d love to have those two back. But that’s football. And again, I was proud of the way we fought until the end.”

Connor Blair, one of the seniors playing his final game, completed 14-of-28 passes for 191 yards with one touchdown.

Blair also got it done on the ground with nine carries for 57 yards.

Huntingdon quarterback Preston Samoden completed 10-of-12 passes for 134 yards with a touchdown, and Vic Jerald ran for 150 yards on 26 carries with a pair of touchdowns.

Huntingdon, which will represent the USA South in the NCAA Division III playoffs, scored touchdowns on its first three possessions to build a 21-0 lead.

The Panthers got on the board with a 31-yard field goal by Zachary Kudwa late in the second quarter, and the Hawks led 21-3 at the half.

The Hawks extended their lead to 27-3 with a pair of second-half field goals by Chase Young.

After a Huntingdon punt, LaGrange College needed less than three minutes to drive 62 yards for their first touchdown.

Blair had a 17-yard completion to Brendan Thomas, and the Panthers also benefited from a pass-interference call on the Hawks.

Blair threw his 22nd touchdown pass of the season moments later and Kudwa’s extra point made it a 10-point game.

It was the final game for LaGrange College’s 13 seniors, and Pardue is grateful for their contributions to the program.

“I told the seniors, I really appreciated them,” Pardue said. “They bought in and tried to do what we asked them to do. We’ll miss them.”

OF NOTE: For more photos, check out