BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern football team put up 30 unanswered second half points to pull within eight against Southern Athletic Association rival Centre College Saturday afternoon at Krulak Stadium. The Panthers (1-9, 1-6 SAA) would eventually fall 45-30 on senior day but not before nearly upsetting the No. 1 team in the league.
Kerrigan Pennington (Wagerville, Ala./Washington County HS) led the team in passing and rushing yards, finishing with 87 in the air and 144 on the ground. Jamal Watkins (Hampton, Ga./Dodge City CC) was second on the team behind Pennington in all-purpose yards. He finished with 130 total yards, including 126 on three kickoff returns.
Matthew Byers (Pelham, Ala./John Carroll Catholic HS) and Dylan Main (Navarre, Fla./Navarre HS) led the defense. Byers finished with a game-high eight tackles, seven solo. And Main finished with seven tackles, all solo, and one interception.
Centre (7-1, 5-1 SAA) scored 38 unanswered points before BSC received a spark from Watkins. He returned a kickoff 95 yards to break the Panthers scoring draught.
Pennington sprinted 41-yards on their next possession to score his first touchdown of the day. He then rushed to complete the two-point conversion and bring their score to 15 points.
On the second play of the next defensive series, Sy Butler (Childersburg, Ala./Childersburg HS) snatched J.D. Morgan's pass from the air and returned it three yards to get the Panthers offense back on the field.
It only took two plays before Pennington connected with Daniel Lopera (Kennesaw, Ga./Mount Paran Christian School) on a 9-yard touchdown pass. Ryder Andrews (Homewood, Ala./Homewood HS) made the extra point and BSC moved to 22 points.
On the ensuing kickoff Blaine Loveless (Ringgold, Ga./Heritage HS) forced a fumble and it was recovered by Jelani Bender (Alabaster, Ala./John Carroll Catholic HS) on Centre's 26-yard line before time expired in the third quarter.
When the Panthers couldn't capitalize on the turnover, the defense took over again and forced Centre three-and-out with 13:06 left in the game. The offense then went 42 yards on 10 plays to score on a Pennington rushing touchdown. He ran the two-point conversion in again and pulled the Panthers to within eight points, 38-30, with 7:15 remaining.
But Centre finally answered the Panthers four touchdowns with one of their own to go ahead 45-30 and close scoring on the day.
The Panthers close the 2016 season on the road at Berry College next Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.