BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A 32-yard overtime touchdown pass from junior quarterback Joe Thigpen to senior wide receiver Tay Walker gave the Birmingham-Southern (1-1) football team a 35-28 victory over Campbell University (1-1), Saturday, at Panther Stadium.
It was the second meeting between the two young programs in as many years, with the Panthers coming out on top both times, including a 12-6 win in 2008 in Buies Creek, N.C.
The Camels got on the board first on a 39-yard run by quarterback Daniel Polk. Sophomore Sam Bratt blocked the extra point attempt, giving Campbell a 6-0 lead at the 10:28 mark of the first quarter. BSC scored on its next drive as Thigpen ran 16 yards to find the Campbell end zone. BSC missed its extra point, tying the score at 6-6 at the 6:11 mark.
Campbell attempted a field goal on the following drive, but the effort was blocked and recovered by junior Zac Napier with 3:07 left in the first quarter. BSC was unsuccessful on its next drive, and the Camels scored again on the following drive on a 58-yard run by C.J. Oates with 45 seconds left in the quarter. The PAT was good, giving CU a 13-6 lead.
On the Panthers’ next drive, senior kicker Raymond Josof nailed a 26-yard field goal to cut the lead to 13-9, but neither team scored again on the next two drives. The Camels found the Panther end zone for the third time, however, on a 25-yard rush by Carl Smith at the 7:17 mark of the second quarter. Adam Willets’ kick was good to put Campbell up 20-9.
Four minutes later, junior tailback Walter Arrington ran the ball 20 yards for another BSC touchdown. The Panthers missed the two-point conversion, and Campbell led 20-15.
On the Camels’ next drive, BSC got another big defensive play as Matt Vollono’s pass was intercepted by junior linebacker David Kelley, but the Panthers were unable to capitalize on the possession and Campbell took the five-point lead into the halftime break.
Campbell received the ball to start the second half but wasn’t able to score on its first drive. BSC, however, took over the lead at the 8:57 mark on a 65-yard touchdown run by freshman tailback Shawn Morris. The Panthers attempted, and failed, another two-point conversion to leave the score 21-20 in favor of BSC.
Both of Campbell’s next two drives ended in big defensive stops by the Panthers, as Kelley forced a fumble and Napier recovered it at the 4:48 mark of the third quarter. Then, with 38 seconds left in the quarter, Napier picked off a pass by Daniel Polk which led to a scoring drive for the Panthers, culminating in a nine-yard Thigpen rush to the end zone and a Josof kick to put BSC up 28-20 with 10:29 left in the game.
The Camels’ next drive ended in a missed field goal attempt, and BSC was also unable to score on its next drive, but Campbell finally found the end zone again on a two-yard rush by Smith with 50 seconds left in the game, cutting the BSC lead to 28-26. The Camels went for the two-point conversion, and were successful on a pass from Polk to Mike Stryffeler to tie it up, 28-28.
With only one second left in regulation, Campbell’s Christian Dixon intercepted a Thigpen pass, but the Camels were unable to score and the game went to overtime.
Campbell won the coin toss and deferred to the Panthers to start overtime, and Thigpen’s 32-yard pass to Walker, and PAT by Josof, put BSC up 35-28. The Camels were not able to get a first down in their final drive of the game, and the game ended on an interception by BSC freshman Andrew Shannon.
Thigpen was 10-of-19 with one interception and 145 yards. He passed for one touchdown and rushed for two, recording 84 yards on 24 carries. Morris led the Panthers with 92 yards rushing, and Walker led with 89 yards on four catches. Arrington was impressive with 136 return yards, and led all players with 189 all-purpose yards.
On defense, senior Victor Allen led with 10 tackles and a forced fumble, while Napier had nine tackles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a blocked field goal. Kelley, junior Ryan Carelson, and sophomore Bryan Jackson also tallied seven tackles apiece, while Jackson, senior John Bailey, and junior Mike Stonewall all had sacks.
For Campbell, Polk was 14-of-22 with two interceptions and 165 passing yards, and picked up 105 yards rushing and a touchdown on 17 carries. Oates led with 115 yards on the ground on 16 carries, and Smith led with two touchdowns. Harrison Jordan led the Camels in receiving with 56 yards on four catches. Oates also led Campbell with 128 all-purpose yards.
Lee Stanley led the Camel defense with 11 tackles, followed by Milton Brown with eight and Cody Lyon with seven.
Campbell recorded 477 total offensive yards to BSC’s 385, and had six more first downs than the Panthers with 25. The Camels also had six penalties, however, while the Panthers had none.
BSC is off next week but returns to the field at home on Saturday, Sept. 26, taking on Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Rhodes College at noon at Panther Stadium.