MEMPHIS, Tenn.—The Birmingham-Southern defense picked off seven Rhodes passes and turned
five of them into 31 points en route to a 41-19 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference football victory today in Memphis.
The Panthers moved to 6-3 on the year, and ensured its first winning season since reinstating football in 2007. BSC, which is not eligible to compete for the SCAC title until 2011, improved to 3-3 in league play.
Rhodes dropped to 3-6 on the season and 2-4 in SCAC play.
The Lynx first three offensive drives of the game ended with BSC interceptions, and the Panthers converted the turnovers into an early 17-0 lead.
Birmingham-Southern senior defensive lineman Justin Ray picked off a pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Perkins early in the first quarter and returned it to the Rhodes 33. The Panthers settled for a 35-yeard field goal by freshman kicker Ryan Laughlin and a 3-0 lead.
Just moments later, junior defensive back Andrew Shannon picked off another Perkins pass and returned it 38 yards to the end zone to push the lead to 10-0.
On Rhodes next possession, Shannon again picked off Perkins and returned it 40 years to the Lynx 40. Eight plays later, sophomore quarterback Jimmy Stainback scored from the seven on the keeper and the Panthers were up 17-0 with 4:42 still remaining in the first quarter.
Rhodes got on the scoreboard early in the second period on a one-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Brett Stoots to sophomore wide receiver Brett Lartigue to pull within 17-7.
The Panthers picked off two more passes on the Lynx's next two possession, both off of Stoots. Shannon picked off his third pass of the first half, followed by an interception by junior defensive back Micah Baker. After Baker's interception, BSC drove 55 yards in nine plays to go up 24-7 on a five-yard touchdown pass from Stainback to freshman wide receiver Evin Smith with 19 seconds to go in the first half.
Rhodes got the second half scoring started on a 56-yard pass from junior wide receiver Buddy Legens to Lartigue. The point after failed and BSC led 24-13.
The Panthers got the points right back on the ensuing kickoff, driving 62 yards in nine plays for the touchdown. The one-yard rush by junior running back Shawn Morris put the Panthers back up by 18 at 31-13.
Rhodes then drove 76 yards in 12 plays to close the gap again. Perkins hit sophomore tight end John White on a one-yard scoring toss to pull the Lynx within 31-19 of Birmingham-Southern. The try for two failed.
The Panthers then ran more than five minutes off the clock on a 13-play drive that resulted in a 31-yard Laughlin field goal and a 34-19 lead.
BSC got its sixth interception of the game midway through the fourth quarter, when junior linebacker Dustin Massey picked off a Perkins pass.
The Panthers final score of the game came courtesy of the seventh intercepted pass. Baker nabbed his second pick of the day and his second off Rhodes quarterback Stoots. On the next play, senior tailback Walter Arrington rambled 36 yards to the end zone to put Birmingham-Southern up by the final score of 41-19.
Birmingham-Southern, the SCAC's top rushing team, piled up 308 yards on the ground, led by Arrington's 132 yards on 21 carries. The league's leading rusher, Arrington went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.
In addition to the seven interceptions, the BSC defense was led by Massey and sophomore linebacker Nick Gordon with eight tackles a piece. The Panthers held Rhodes to 297 yards total offense.
Shannon has now picked off four passes in the last two games, returning two of them for scores. BSC now has 21 interceptions as a team this season.
Birmingham-Southern closes its 2010 season at home Nov. 13 as the Panthers face SCAC foe Millsaps College at 1 p.m. on Senior Day in Panther Stadium.