Panthers hit road for USA South opener
Published 1:07 am Saturday, September 29, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Coming off their first win of the season, the LaGrange College Panthers will try to start their USA South schedule on a winning note today.
LaGrange College (1-2), which beat Apprentice 42-13 last weekend at Callaway Stadium, will be on the road today to face North Carolina-Wesleyan in the USA South opener for both teams.
LaGrange College’s final seven games will be against USA South foes, and the conference winner earns an automatic invitation to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Earl Chambers, the Panthers’ first-year head coach, believes the conference race is wide open.
“It’s up for grabs this year,” Chambers said. “If we keep playing like we have been, I told (the players) don’t be surprised to look up and we’re in it.”
LaGrange College opened the season with close losses to Birmingham Southern and Berry College before easing past Apprentice.
The Panthers took care of business early, surging to a 28-7 lead after the first quarter, and the outcome was never in doubt after that.
Freshman quarterback Cam Perkins ran for 88 yards on seven carries with three touchdowns, and Kelly Hall threw for 171 yards with two scoring passes.
Perkins threw four passes, and he completed one of them for 17 yards.
“We can’t tackle Cam in practice,” Chambers said. “I kept saying we’ve got to figure out a way to get him on the field. He’s big, and he runs like a running back. If we can get him to throw the ball effectively, he’s going to be something else. I’m glad we have him.”
Hall has thrown for 774 yards in three games with six touchdowns.
Marcus Campbell caught three passes for 90 yards with a touchdown, Austin Sapp had a scoring reception, and Drew Lewiski had a touchdown run.
In their first two games, LaGrange College almost exclusively a passing offense with Hall putting up big numbers, but with the help of Perkins, it was considerably more balanced against Apprentice.
The Panthers had 188 passing yards, and 185 rushing yards.
Elijah Robertson led the defensive effort with seven tackles with a forced fumble, and Xavior Coaxum had an interception.
“Moving forward, I want to continue to be balanced on offense, and play good hard-nosed defense,” Chambers said.
North Carolina Wesleyan beat Thomas More 35-28 in its first game, and it lost to Shenandoah 59-21 on Sept. 8.
North Carolina Wesleyan was supposed to play Bridgewater (Va.) last week, but the game was postponed because of the hurricane.
Senior quarterback Nate Gardner has thrown for 600 yards in two games with five touchdowns, and Jeff Black leads the rushing attack with 148 yards and a touchdown.
Trey Lancaster and Dupre Falls both have two touchdown catches.
LAGRANGE COLLEGE VS. NORTH CAROLINA-WESLEYAN
WHEN: Today, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Rocky Mount, N.C.
RECORDS: LaGrange College (1-2); North Carolina Wesleyan (1-1)
LAST MEETING: LaGrange College beat North Carolina Wesleyan 51-44 last year