Senior quarterback Connor Blair threw for six touchdowns as LaGrange took a wild 51-44 win over N.C. Wesleyan in Callaway Stadium on Saturday. The Panthers improved to 2-1 in conference play, while evening their season record at 3-3.
"Anytime that you win, like I told the kids, don't worry about what you did bad or good today, enjoy the victory and we'll come back tomorrow and watch film and start getting ready for the next one," Coach Steve Pardue said. "I'm just glad to see our guys win it. You need to win your conference games at home and now we have to start preparing for a good Ferrum team next week."
Blair threw for 499 yards in the game, completing 33-of-50 passes with one interception. He came within 22 yards of breaking his own school record of 520, set last season against Ave Maria. Blair threw six TD passes for the third time in his career. The 499 passing yards set a team Callaway Stadium record. Blair, taking advantage of what the Bishops' defense was giving, threw 30 times in the firs half.
"I'm the one who traditionally wants to run it all of the time," said Pardue. "But I was telling the coaches if they are giving it to us, take it. All of our receivers are playing so well. It's gotten to be contagious and everyone is making good catches. Connor does a good job of seeing the field and for the most part stays out of bad plays."
For the second time in the last three games, LC had two receivers over 100 yards in a game. Marcus Campbell had a game-high nine catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Sapp had a career high 125 yards on seven catches, including a 57-yard touchdown. Nine different Panthers had at least one reception in the game.
Campbell had touchdown catches of 7 and 18 yards to help the Panthers to a 16-7 lead in the second quarters. After the Bishops (1-5, 1-3 USA South) trimmed the lead to two, 16-14, the Panthers responded with a 12 play 70-yard drive. On fourth down at the Bishops' 4-yard line, Blair foud David Apiag open to make it 23-14 with 22 seconds left in the half. Codan Breckenridge hit a 22-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make 23-17.
The Panthers held the ball for over 13 minutes in the third quarter. Blair tossed a 13-yard pass to Kendrick Johnson for one score, then Nicholas Searcy ran it in from the 1-yard line to open up a 37-17 lead.
The Bishops came back with touchdown runs of 11 and 46 yards from Deandre Gillis to draw within six, 37-31. The second touchdown came just 15 seconds in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers needed only three plays to answer the Bishops. Blair hit Sapp in stride behind the Bishops' secondary for a 57-yard strike to make it 44-31. Trey Lancaster, who had seven catches for 187 yards, hauled in a 26 yard pass from Nate Gardner to make it a six point game again.
LC covered 77 yards in just five plays to go back up by 13. This time, Blair hooked up with Djeimon Owens for a 28 yard strike to make it 51-38 with 9:38 remaining.
Lancaster made a diving one-handed catch for an 11-yard touchdown from Donielle Totten to make it 51-44 with 1:39 left. The Panther defense clinched the game when Brandon Ray separated Totten from the ball at the end of a 25-yard run. Peyton Haynes recovered the ball as LC ran out the clock.