BSC hosts Huntingdon in third annual Wesley Cup gridiron showdown Sept. 10

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Birmingham-Southern College Panthers will host the Huntingdon Hawks of Montgomery Saturday, Sept. 10, in the third annual Wesley Cup football game.  Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Panther Stadium on the BSC campus.

To mark the rivalry between the only two NCAA Division III institutions in the state of Alabama, the schools announced in 2009 that they would play annually for a trophy known as 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.

This will be the third meeting ever between the Panthers and the Hawks.  Huntingdon won the inaugural Wesley Cup game in 2009.  Birmingham-Southern beat Huntingdon last September, 35-20, in Montgomery.

"Huntingdon has another outstanding football team," said fourth-year Head Coach Eddie Garfinkle.  "They are extremely talented and experienced on both sides of the football.  They have won their last four games going back to last season.  It's obvious they are playing very good football and with a lot of confidence.  This will be one of the biggest tests for our young program since we began play in 2007."

Both BSC and Huntingdon are 1-0 on the young season.  Birmingham-Southern opened the season on the road with a 28-7 win Sept. 3 over LaGrange College of Georgia.  Huntingdon also is 1-0 on the season with a 35-7 victory at Maryville College last Saturday.

Against LaGrange last week, Birmingham-Southern was led by junior tailback Shawn Morris of Pensacola, Fla., who rushed for a school-record 193 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns.  Morris was honored for his performance as the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player-of-the-Week and as a member of the D3Football.com National Team of the Week.  Morris also set a school record with his 88-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.  BSC finished the afternoon with 407 yards total offense, including 325 yards on the ground.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers picked off five LaGrange passes on the afternoon.  Junior defensive back Andrew Shannon of Trussville and junior defensive back Cole Rudder of Marietta, Ga., both returned interceptions for touchdowns against LaGrange.  BSC held LaGrange to just 10 first downs and 164 yards total offense.

Huntingdon, led by eighth-year Head Coach Mike Turk, returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense from a squad that finished 6-4 last season, including wins in its final three games.  Against Maryville, the Hawks rolled up more than 500 yards in total offense, including 309 yards and two touchdowns through the air by junior quarterback Neal Posey.  Junior running back Trevor Manual added 210 all-purpose yards, including 104 rushing and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Hawks held Maryville to just 214 total yards, led by senior linebacker Kirk Johnson's 10 tackles.  Junior defensive lineman D.J. Chappell added eight tackles, three sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Birmingham-Southern football will feature live streaming Internet broadcasts for all four of its home games this season.  For links to game coverage, click here.

BSC will hit the road again next weekend, Sept. 17, when it plays Ava Maria University in Ava Maria, Fla.  Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. central time. The Panthers will begin Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play Sept. 24 at Sewanee.

For the first time since football returned to BSC in 2007 after a 68-year hiatus, the Panthers are eligible to compete for the SCAC championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.