Football: Birmingham-Southern downs Panthers in 2011 season opener

Sam Lowe

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Birmingham-Southern took advantage of five LaGrange interceptions in route to a 28-7 win over the Panthers on Saturday at Callaway Stadium. The game was the 2011 season opener for both teams.

The visiting Panthers returned two of the interceptions for touchdowns and got a game-high 193 yards rushing from junior running back Shawn Morris. Morris had touchdown runs of 41 and 88 yards in the game.

Birmingham-Southern's defense limited LaGrange to 164 yards of total offense. The Panthers got 52 of the yards on a catch and run by junior running back Aaron Duncan for their only touchdown in the game.

The Panthers used junior Michael May and sophomore Ed Russ at quarterback. The pair were a combined 9-for-26 with the five interceptions and were also sacked five times.

Birmingham-Southern finished with 407 yards of total offense against a Panther defense that was on the field a lot in the game. The defense stopped the visiting Panthers three times inside the 20 on downs in the first half alone.

After a scoreless first quarter, the visiting Panthers got on the board on the first play of the second quarter. Andrew Shannon returned May's first pass of the game 10 yards for a 7-0 lead. It was the first of two interceptions by Shannon.

The Panthers answered with a five play 68-yard drive to tie the game. On a third and five at the LaGrange 48, May threw a short pass to Duncan on a screen in the middle of the field. Duncan split a pair of defenders and raced the 52 yards for the score. Drake Nahrwold added the extra point to make it 7-7 with 12:14 in the half.

Birmingham-Southern took the lead for good late in the first half. The visiting Panthers needed only one play for the touchdown. Morris broke free around the right side to put Birmingham-Southern up 14-7 at halftime.

The Panthers' offense struggled after scoring to tie the game. The next 11 drives ended in seven punts and four turnovers.

Morris put Birmingham-Southern up 21-7 with an 88-yard run down the visitor's sidelines in the third quarter. Cole Rudder put the game out of reach with a 22-yard interception return of a pass from Russ in the fourth quarter for the 28-7 final.

Craig Ryan and Josh Clinton each had eight total tackles for LaGrange's defense. Victor Rummel had an interception and Andre Carter had a quarterback sack.