No matter what the scoreboard said, LaGrange College head football coach Matt Mumme refused to throw his team under the bus.
What Mumme did do was reflect and grind his teeth just a little bit after the Panthers 44-20 homecoming defeat to Ferrum College on Saturday afternoon at Callaway Stadium. After all, the hometown Panthers did get 339 yards passing and three touchdowns from junior quarterback Connor Blair.
And LaGrange College still lost.
“I still feel like we’re a good team. We’ll play anybody. We just have to bear down. We let some (scoring) opportunities slip away,” said Mumme, the son of former University of Kentucky coaching icon Hal Mumme.
Finding a good offensive rhythm was LaGrange College’s biggest problem on this homecoming afternoon in the sun. The Panthers drifted between good and inconsistent all day.
Blair did receive a pass rush from Ferrum (two quarterback sacks), but the LaGrange College field general kept on firing. Blair kept the “Air Raid Offense” in the mix as he completed 24 of 45 passes with only one interception.
Blair’s first touchdown pass came at the 12:29 mark of the first quarter on a 56yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Marcus Campbell. Blair’s next scoring play, however, would not come until early in the fourth period.
The Panther quarterback hooked up with freshman running back Brendon Scott for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 12:10 left in the game. That shaved the Ferrum lead to 34-14.
Blair would zero in for another touchdown pass late in the fourth period. Blair went to LaGrange College senior Ervens Oge on a 59yard play. What the Panthers didn’t plan for on this day was a lethal dose of offense from the boys from Ferrum, Va.
The Ferrum College Panthers spit out 523 yards, 27 first downs and one meaningful USA South win over LaGrange. LaGrange College tied the game just once at 77, and the Panthers from LC never led in their homecoming game.
“We have a lot of young guys. In the second half we did have a different mindset,” said LaGrange College freshman defensive back DeVarius Smith.
He had one of two interceptions in the game for the Panthers. Freshman free safety Quentin Dixon had the other interception for La-Grange College. The Panthers also got 11 tackles from sophomore defensive end Fabian Ryan.
LaGrange College still fell more than a few plays short of winning. It was not close, not even with some hustle plays from Ryan, Blair, Smith and Dixon. Ferrum College ate LaGrange’s homecoming lunch and did so with 368 yards rushing. Ferrum ran roughshod over LaGrange College.
The visitors from Ferrum took the ball in for a total of four rushing touchdowns. The Ferrum Panthers owned the line of scrimmage.
“We came out, and played hard and executed. We showed some resilience, and we beat a good LaGrange College team,” said Ferrum head coach Rob Grande.
The Ferrum Panthers ran the ball north and south. Ferrum punished the La-Grange College defense, and on the ground floor of this game plan was freshman running back Brian Mann.
He rushed for 254 yards on 33 carries for the boys from Ferrum. Mann was slippery and fast. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
“We showed up today. We dominated. This is a huge win, and our offensive line never stopped blocking,” said Mann.
Ferrum senior quarterback Harvey Taylor was a big part of this offensive act as well for the other Panther team. Taylor skipped around the artificial turf for 44 yards on 19 carries. Taylor also completed 11 of 20 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman wide receiver Ne’Shaun Gill of Ferrum was grabbing and going with a 66-yard touchdown catch with 14:27 left in the second period. That gave Ferrum a 20-7 lead. The Panthers never blinked again all day.
But they did dominate, to LaGrange College’s chagrin. Ferrum sent a message to LaGrange College.
“We want to make sure nobody else schedules us for their homecoming. We did our job, and we have our juice back. We pressured their quarterback (Connor Blair),” said Ferrum freshman defensive end Gejuan Keith, the 6-foot-7, 245-pound pass rusher.
Ferrum College is now 43 overall and 2-2 in the USA South Conference. LaGrange College is 3-4 on the season and 1-3 in the conference.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer