Football travels to Huntingdon this weekend to battle for Wesley Cup

Live Audio

The Birmingham-Southern Panthers will travel to Montgomery for the second time on the young season Saturday, Sept. 25, when they visit the Huntingdon Hawks in a battle of undefeated teams in the second annual Wesley Cup showdown. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in W. James Samford Jr. Stadium on the Huntingdon campus. It will be Homecoming for Huntingdon.

Huntingdon won the inaugural Wesley Cup last season 59-28 in Panther Stadium on the BSC campus. Last year’s meeting was the first-ever on the gridiron for the state’s only two NCAA Division III schools.

To mark the kickoff of the rivalry, BSC and Huntingdon announced they would play annually for a trophy called the Wesley Cup, named for John Wesley, who was the principal founder of the Methodist movement in the 18th century. Both Birmingham-Southern and Huntingdon are affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

The BSC Panthers, 2-0 for the first time since 1934, had last weekend off after posting a 52-16 win at Faulkner University in Montgomery on Sept. 11.

Birmingham-Southern also owns a home victory over LaGrange College.

The Panthers, under the direction of third-year head coach Eddie Garfinkle, are averaging 40 points a game on offense, led by senior tailback Walter Arrington who is averaging 145 yards per game on the ground with two touchdowns. Sophomore tailback Shawn Morris has four rushing touchdowns. Senior quarterback Joe Thigpen has passed for 255 yards and one touchdown in the first two games.

The BSC defense is giving up 17 points per game and is led by several players, including senior defensive lineman Patrick Thomas with 11 tackles and one sack, junior defensive back Micah Baker with eight tackles and an interception, sophomore defensive back Andrew Shannon with 10 tackles, and junior defensive lineman Sam Brätt with nine tackles, including a sack.

Huntingdon, at 3-0 on the year, beat cross-town rival Faulkner 42-10 on Sept. 18. The Hawks also have victories at home over Maryville College and on the road at Louisiana College.

Led by seventh-year head coach Mike Turk, Huntingdon returns 30 letter winners and 12 starters from last season’s squad that posted a school-record eight victories and clinched its first-ever postseason berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

The Hawks are averaging nearly 53 points a game in their three wins this season, led by quarterback Nick Plagenhoef. The sophomore has passed for 652 yards and six touchdowns in just two starts. Sophomore quarterback Neal Posey passed for 235 yards and three touchdowns in his one start. Their primary target has been junior wide receiver Cody Pearcy, who has 19 receptions for 466 yards and five touchdowns. Huntingdon is led on the ground by freshman Caleb McCants who is averaging 84 yards a game.

Defensively, Huntingdon has allowed an average of 23 points per game, led by junior linebacker Kirk Johnson with 20 total tackles, including five for a total loss of 20 yards. Sophomore defensive lineman D.J. Chappell has 13 tackles, including two sacks.

“Huntingdon is the best football team we will play,” said BSC’s Garfinkle. “Coach Turk and his staff have done a great job of bringing in excellent freshman classes year after year. They not only have great players, but their staff does a great job of coaching all phases of the game.

“The open date last week has given us an opportunity to slowly implement our game plan. We are hoping the extra time spent on Huntingdon will help us be better prepared for the tremendous challenge and opportunity we have this Saturday.”

The game can be heard on Birmingham-Southern’s live streaming Internet radio broadcast featuring play-by-play by Josh Caray. The free online broadcasts, as well as Live Stats, will be accessible through and will begin approximately 15 minutes before kickoff.

Birmingham-Southern returns home Oct. 2 for the first time since the opening weekend of the season to face perennial Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference power Trinity University at Noon in Panther Stadium on campus.