September 24, 2011

Football opens conference play on the road at Sewanee Sept. 24

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The undefeated Birmingham-Southern College Panthers begin conference play this weekend when they travel to face the Sewanee Tigers in a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference football clash Saturday, Sept. 24.  Kick off set for 1 p.m. at McGee field in Sewanee, Tenn.

Birmingham-Southern is 3-0 on the season following last weekend's 43-7 over Ave Maria in Naples, Fla.  Sewanee enters the contest at 2-1 after defeating Pudget Sound 34-23 in Tacoma, Wash., Sept. 17.

Saturday's road contest begins Birmingham-Southern's quest for a conference championship and automatic berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.  The Panthers are eligible to compete for the SCAC title this year for the first time since football returned to Birmingham-Southern in 2007 after a 68-year hiatus.

BSC holds a 4-0 lead in the overall series with Sewanee since football returned in 2007, including last season's 50-10 win in Panther Stadium.

"We are preparing for a very good Sewanee football team this Saturday," said fourth-year BSC Head Coach Eddie Garfinkle.  "They have a new coach and a renewed sense of enthusiasm in their program and their play on the field this season is proof of that.  This is a vastly improved football team over what we've faced the previous few seasons.

"Our players understand the importance of this game as an SCAC contest and how that fits into our goals for the season.  I believe will be focused and ready to play.  I also feel the fact that we've already played two road games will be important as we travel again on Saturday."

Birmingham-Southern will enter the contest averaging 35 points and 21 first downs a game.  The Panthers rushing offense accounts for 314 of those yards, led by junior tailback Shawn Morris of Pensacola, Fla., and his 138 yards per game average and six touchdowns.  Morris tallied 114 yards rushing and two scores last week at Ave Maria.  He also is the team's leading receiver with 11 receptions.  Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Stainback or Roswell, Ga., is a dual threat for BSC, throwing for 138 yards a game and rushing for another 68.  He has five touchdowns on the season, including two on the ground.  He passed for one score and rushed for another in last weekend's game.

Defensively, the Panthers are holding their opponents to 270 yards total offense and 14 first downs a contest.  Junior defensive back Andrew Shannon of Trussville picked up his third interception and his second interception return for a touchdown in the Ave Maria victory.  Shannon has leads the Panthers in tackles with 25 in three games, including three tackles for a loss.  Junior defensive end Jake Robertson of Gray, Ga., is second on the team with 15 total tackles with one sack and two tackles for a loss.

Freshman punter Cameron Haynes of Pelham is averaging over 36 yards per kick including eight downed inside the 20 yard line.

Sewanee is under the direction of first-year Head Coach Tommy Laurendine, a former offensive coordinator at The Citadel, Lenoir-Rhyne, and Washington and Lee.  Laurendine has installed the triple option offense at Sewanee, and at 3-4 scheme on defense.  In addition to last weekend's victory at Pudget Sound, the Tigers defeated Earlham at home 32-10 and lost to Washington and Lee on the road 31-14.

Sewanee is averaging 27 points and 17 first downs a game, while giving up 21 points per contest.  The Tiger's offense is averaging 357 yards per game, including 288 on the ground.  Senior running back Zeke Wilson leads the rushing attack averaging 59 yards a game.  He has rushed for two touchdowns.  The Sewanee offense has stayed mostly on the ground.  Sophomore quarterbacks Lee Schurlknight and Curtis Johnson have combined to pass for only 208 yards, but have rushed for 224 yards and five touchdowns between them.

Senior defensive back Alfonza Knight and sophomore linebacker Dave McKeithen lead the Tiger defense with 18.5 tackles each on the season.  Knight also has an interception.  Freshman defensive lineman Alex Head has two sacks, three tackles for a loss, and one interception which he returned 54 yards for a score.

Fans of the Panthers can follow the contest with Sewanee on live streaming video at www.sewaneetigers.com.

The Panthers will be on the road again Oct. 1 at SCAC foe Austin College in Sherman, Texas.  Kick off is set for 1 p.m.