Turnovers plague Panthers in 46-12 loss to No. 11 Wesley

Marquis Pratt (photo by Cari Dean)
Marquis Pratt (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—No. 11 Wesley College scored 37 first-quarter points and converted five turnovers to defeat Birmingham-Southern, 46-12 Saturday afternoon on Battle Field at Panther Stadium.

It was the first loss of the season for BSC, who falls to 3-1, while Wesley—ranked 11th by D3football.com and 14th by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)—moves to 3-1 after losing to No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor last weekend on the road. Today's game was the second meeting between the programs; the Wolverines won in Dover, Del., last year, 26-17.

Wesley began its first-quarter scoring assault at the 9:30 mark on a three-yard run by Eugene Byrd. The Wolverines got a safety about a minute later, as BSC attempted to punt but the snap was high. The ball sailed over the punter's head and rolled out of bounds through the end zone, putting Wesley up 9-0. At the 4:53 mark, the Wolverines scored again on a four-yard pass from Joe Callahan to Steve Koudossou, extending the lead to 16-0. Seventeen seconds later, linebacker Sosthene Kapepula recovered a BSC fumble and returned it 21 yards to the end zone, and 1:16 after that, defensive end Aamir Petrose recovered another fumble and returned the ball 85 yards, putting Wesley up 30-0. Then, with one second left in the quarter, the Wolverines found the end zone on an interception return by strong safety Duke Herald, going up 37-0 after 15 minutes of play.

The second quarter was scoreless for both teams, and the Panthers finally got on the board at the 10:09 mark of the third quarter when junior halfback Marquis Pratt powered one yard into the end zone. BSC missed the point-after kick, so Wesley still held a 37-6 lead. The Wolverines would score again before the end of the third when quarterback Joe Callahan made a four-yard run at the 5:58 mark.

Pratt scored again for the Panthers at the 7:42 mark of the fourth quarter. A penalty was called on the PAT attempt, which was off the mark, and BSC tried for a two-point conversion on the second attempt. The pass was intercepted by free safety Bruce Tyler, who returned the ball to the opposite end zone to give Wesley two points instead for a final score of 46-12.

Senior quarterback Tyson Beacham was 17-30 with 233 yards and three interceptions, and junior receiver Sam Vermilyea led with 103 yards on five catches, as well as 110 kick-return yards. Freshman tailback Samir Usman led on the ground with 23 yards on eight carries. The Panthers were playing without senior tailback Joe Moultrie, who injured his knee last week against Stetson.

BSC struggled offensively with only 18 yards rushing for a total of 251 yards, while Wesley racked up 252 rushing yards and 208 passing for a total of 460. The Wolverines had 22 first downs to the Panthers' 13, but also were called for 12 penalties resulting in losses of 105 yards. Wesley also had possession of the ball for over 36 minutes to BSC's 23 minutes.

Senior lineback Cameron Budzius led the defense with eight tackles, six of those unassisted, as well as a forced fumble.

The Panthers are on the road next week, traveling to face Sewanee in Sewanee, Tenn., Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. BSC is off the week of Oct. 12 before returning home to host Millsaps Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.