LaGRANGE, Ga. -- Cody Ausherman tied the school record with four field goals, including the game-tying and game-winning efforts, and Vaughn Cross became the school's all-time leader in touchdown receptions as the Methodist football team rallied for a 26-23 OT win at LaGrange on Saturday afternoon.
Ausherman made good on all four of his field goal attempts, including a game-tying 45-yarder as time expired in regulation to force overtime, and a 23-yard game-winner in overtime as MU rallied from a pair of 10-point second-half deficits to snap a three-game losing streak.
Cross had touchdown receptions of eight and 23 yards, giving him 16 for his career and moving him past Len Bellamy '98 into sole possession of first place all-time for the Monarchs.
After a Will Jeffcoat 20-yard field goal gave the Panthers a 23-13 lead with 7:18 left in the game, Methodist got the ball back following punts by both teams at their own 9-yard line with 5:15 to play. The Monarchs moved the ball 91 yards in eight plays and needed only 2:15 to do so as Max Reber connected with Cross for a touchdown from 23 yards out. Ausherman's PAT made it 23-20 with 3:04 on the clock.
Following a failed onside kick, the Panthers' Kent Gibson rushed four straight times, including gaining just one yard on a crucial 4th-and-4, to give possession back over to the Monarchs on their own 36 with 57 seconds in the game. Following a sack for a loss of seven yards on 2nd-and 10, Reber hit Adam Thomas for a 20-yard gain on 3rd-and-17 to move the ball out to near midfield. Reber then found Thomas for 16 yards on the next play and following a final 7-yard game, Ausherman trotted onto the field for the game-tying 45-yard field goal as time expired.
In overtime, LaGrange started with the ball and on 3rd-and10, Keltcey Richardson sacked LC's Ed Russ for a loss of nine yards back to the MU 34-yard line that set up a 51-yard field goal try by Jeffcoat that came up short of the mark.
On the Monarchs' first possession, Reber rushed for five yards on first down, followed by a 17-yard gain by John Flanagan to the LaGrange 3-yard line. After a pair of run plays put MU in a 3rd-and-goal from the six, Ausherman came on and made good from 23 yards out to seal the dramatic win.
In the first period, Russ gave the Panthers an early 7-0 lead with an 85-yard run at the 6:30 mark of the first quarter. Methodist tied the game at 7-7 when Cross caught his record breaking touchdown, an 8-yarder from Reber at the 9:51 mark of the second quarter. A 37-yard field goal by Ausherman with 6:38 to play in the opening half gave MU a 10-7 lead.
LaGrange answered with a 22-yard run to paydirt by Kent Gibson 4:13 before the break and stretched its lead to 20-10 in the third quarter on a pair of short Jeffcoat field goals. Ausherman pulled the Monarchs back to within a touchdown (20-13) with his second field goal, a 34-yard effort just 12 seconds into the final stanza to set up the dramatic finish.
The two defenses combined to allow just 452 yards of total offense in the game while recording a total of 11 sacks in the contest. LaGrange finished with 205 yards on the ground, 85 of them on Russ' long scoring run, and MU held the Panthers to just 45 yards passing for 250 yards total. MU also sacked Russ four times and picked him off once. The Panther defense limited the Monarchs to 35 net yards rushing and gave up 167 through the air while sacking Reber seven times and picking him off two times.
Reber finished 18-of-33 for 167 yards through the air with the two touchdowns and two interceptions. Thomas, Cross and James Bevans all caught four balls from Reber, with Thomas gaining a game-high 59 yards receiving. Darius Page led the Monarchs with 29 yards rushing, all of them coming on one carry.
Defensively, Bryan Bing posted a career-high 17 tackles , including 3.5 for loss to lead the Monarchs. M.J. Bryant added 10 tackles (2.0 TFL) and Richardson and Brad Wade finished with five tackles and 2.0 sacks apiece. Wade now has 10.5 sacks on the season, the second-most in a single season at MU, and is within striking distance of the single-season record of 14 set by Quincy Malloy '02 in 2001.
For the Panthers, Russ finished with 141 yards on the ground on 20 carries, while Gibson was limited to 63 yards on 26 carries. Russ also completed 7-of-18 passes with an interception for a total of 45 yards.
Andre Carter led LaGrange with 12 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and a sack, while also adding a forced fumble and an interception. Justin McIntyre had 2.0 sacks among his four tackles and added a forced fumble as well.
The Monarchs are back in action on Saturday when they host Averett at 1:00 pm.