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Panthers drop overtime heartbreaker to LaGrange, 34-28

Samir Usman (photo by Cari Dean)
Samir Usman (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—After tying the game 28-28 with 1:14 left to send the game to overtime, the Birmingham-Southern football team lost its season opener in overtime, 34-28, Saturday evening to LaGrange on Battle Field at Panther Stadium.

The game was the first-ever night game at Panther Stadium and had a sellout crowd of over 2,400 fans in attendance.

BSC and LaGrange traded touchdowns in the first quarter, with BSC sophomore tailback Samir Usman scoring first, and sophomore Jay Williams connecting on the extra point, to put BSC up 7-0 at the 8:47 mark. LaGrange tied it up six minutes later, but BSC took the lead at the 3:28 mark of the second quarter when Williams made a 26-yard field goal. BSC took the 10-7 lead into the locker room at the half before coming out and expanding it to 17-7 when sophomore halfback Jesse Handlon caught a 51-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Austin Martin.

LaGrange cut it to 17-14 at the 6:27 mark, but Williams hit another field goal at the 2:43 mark of the third to push the lead to 20-14.

LaGrange scored two touchdowns to open the fourth quarter and pull up 28-20. With 1:14 left in the game, Usman found the end zone to cut it to 28-26, and Martin converted the extra points to tie it up 28-28 before the end of regulation.

LaGrange had the ball first in overtime, but their possession was cut short when senior Hunter Mims intercepted the ball. BSC's possession ended the same way when a Martin pass was intercepted in the end zone to give the ball back to LaGrange. BSC was unable to score after that, but LaGrange found the end zone to end the game on a 26-yard pass from Graham Craig to Michael Gray.

Martin was 14-31 for 270 yards for BSC, while senior Joe Moultrie, returning from a season-ended knee injury in 2013, led with 211 yards rushing. Usman had two touchdowns and 34 yards on 24 carries.

Seniors LaPrintence Gunn and Austin Hansard, and sophomore Sidarius Gotell led the BSC defense with eight tackles apiece. Seniors Wesley Hansard, Zac Phillips, and Nathan Boldt each had a sack, and Gunn also had two fumble recoveries.

LaGrange's Larry Murdock was impressive on defense, racking up 22 tackles including two tackles-for-losses.

The Panthers are back in action next Saturday, Sept. 13, traveling south to face in-state rival Huntingdon for the Wesley Cup. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. on Charles Lee Field at Samford Stadium.