MONTGOMERY, Ala.—No. 24 Birmingham-Southern held off a late-game surge by Huntingdon to clinch a 45-38 win on the road in the fourth-annual Wesley Cup Game.
The Panthers move to 2-0 on the season, while the Hawks fall to 1-1. Today's game was nearly a replay of the end of last year's Wesley Cup face-off, but reversed, with Huntingdon having a chance to tie things up as the clock wound down. BSC scored on the final play of the game last season to tie it up, and eventually won in the second overtime. Today mark's BSC's third-straight win against the Hawks in the last four seasons.
The Panthers scored first in today's game when sophomore Michael Cowan caught a 46-yard pass from senior quarterback Jimmy Stainback at the 9:53 mark of the first quarter. Junior kicker Ryan Laughlin's extra point was good to put BSC up 7-0.
Huntingdon got on the board early in the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal by David Ballard to cut it to 7-3, and then took the lead with 2:17 left in the half on a one-yard run by Trevor Manuel, going up 10-7.
BSC answered less than two minutes later with a six-yard run by senior tailback Shawn Morris with 20 seconds left. Laughlin's kick was on the mark again, putting the Panthers up 14-10 at the half.
The Hawks took back the lead two minutes into the third quarter on a four-yard Manuel run to go up 17-14, but the Panthers responded on the very next play with a 69-yard run by Morris to go back up 21-17 at the 12:41 mark.
Laughlin connected on a 26-yard field goal at the 9:03 mark of the third quarter to increase the lead to 24-17, and junior Joseph Moultrie made a four-yard dash into the end zone with 1:01 left in the quarter to put BSC up 31-17 after another Laughlin extra point.
Huntingdon cut it to 31-24 with 12:45 left in the game on another short run by Manuel. On the next play, BSC answered with a 67-yard pass from Stainback to sophomore Sam Vermilyea, putting the Panthers up 38-24 with 10:44 left to play.
The BSC defense came up huge on the next play, as the Hawks advanced to the Panther one-yard line and ended up turning the ball over on downs. On the second play of the ensuing drive, sophomore Joseph Moultrie made a 99-yard run - a new BSC record - to the Huntingdon end zone to put the Panthers up 45-24 with 7:14 left.
The Hawks were able to score on the next possession when Neal Posey connected on a six-yard pass to Ephraim Johnson, cutting it to 45-31 with 5:02 left. After a BSC turnover, a 13-yard pass from Posey to Johnson cut it to 45-38 with 2:59 left in the game.
The Panthers were unable to score on their possession and punted with 1:20 to go. The Hawks advanced steadily down the field to the BSC 35-yard line, where a pass from Posey to Johnson was knocked down by senior Jordan Culliver as time expired to clinch the Panther victory.
Stainback was 11-of-16 with one interception for 265 yards passing, while Morris led on the ground with 123 yards and Moultrie added 111. Senior Aaron Sherrill led with 97 yards on four catches.
Posey passed for 388 yards with 26 completions on 42 attempts and no interceptions. Manuel led with 154 yards rushing, and Johnson had 173 receiving yards.
Laughlin was key for the Panther win today, going 6-of-6 on extra points with a field goal on top of that for nine points.
Senior Andrew Shannon led the BSC defense with nine tackles (five solo, four assisted), including 1.5 for losses of nine yards. Seniors Jake Robertson and Zack Lambert each had a sack. Senior Nick Gordon also recovered one of Huntingdon's three fumbles.
The Panthers return home next weekend to face Ave Maria University at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, in Panther Stadium.