Records Fall as Methodist Posts 43-41 Homecoming Win Over LaGrange

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Junior quarterback Max Reber set a pair of school records and the Methodist football team held on for a thrilling 43-41 Homecoming win over LaGrange on Saturday afternoon at Monarch Stadium.

Reber set a new school standard with 452 yards passing on 20-of-30 passing, including five touchdowns, which also set a new school mark. He also rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. In all, MU (5-2, 3-1 USA South) rolled up 644 yards of offense, while LaGrange (3-4, 3-1) finished with 430 yards of total offense.
For all of the offensive output, it was a pair of late defensive plays that added to the drama, as Methodist held on for its third consecutive win. Trailing 43-28 with under six minutes to play, the Panthers pulled to within eight points (43-35) when Andre Carter returned a Reber fumble 61 yards at the 5:19 mark. After Methodist went 3-and-out on its next possession, LaGrange got the ball back with 4:07 to play and marched 80 yards in 10 plays to make it a 43-41 game on a 19-yard screen pass on 4th-and-3 from Graham Craig to Marquius Young with 1:49 to play. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Craig's pass to Ervens Oge fell incomplete in the back of the end zone amidst tight coverage from MU's James Blackshell.

Methodist recovered the ensuing onside kick and was able to run out the clock for the win.

LaGrange struck first, scoring late in the first quarter on a two-yard pass from Craig to Marsalis Jackson. In the second quarter, MU tied the score at 7-7 when Reber connected with Vaughn Cross from 13 yards out and Cody Ausherman converted the extra point.
Following a Methodist turnover, the Panthers moved the ball 21 yards in in three plays to take a 14-7 lead when Craig found Oge for a 15-yard scoring strike at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter.

The Monarchs responded with four straight scores that spanned halftime to assume a 30-14 lead with 9:51 left in the third quarter. Ausherman kicked off the spurt with a 35-yard field goal at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter to make it a 14-10 game. Reber then capped a 10-play, 91-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to push Methodist on top, 17-14, heading into the break.

MU continued to extend its lead when, on its third play of the second half, Darius Page shook a tackler after receiving a screen pass and scampered 77 yards for a touchdown and a 24-14 advantage. Following an LC 3-and-out, the Monarchs embarked on an 82-yard drive that took nine plays and culminated in Blake Scott catching a 21-yard scoring pass from Reber with 9:51 left in the quarter. Ausherman's PAT failed and MU held the aforementioned 30-14 lead.
On their next drive, the Panthers appeared to be in position to cut into their deficit with a 1st-and-goal from the MU four-yard line. After a short gain on first down, however, MU forced three consecutive incompletions to get the ball back on downs. The Monarchs were forced to punt following a 3-and-out and LC took advantage when Craig hooked up with Jackson on a 56-yard scoring strike that cut MU's lead to 30-21 with 2:59 left in the third. Young then pulled LaGrange to within two points (30-28) with a six-yard run just 43 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The Monarchs looked to put the game out of reach as Reber connected with Anthony Radke from 42 yards out to go up, 37-28, followed by a 76-yard Reber-to-Cross touchdown pass that made it 43-28 after another failed PAT with 9:14 left to play before the game's exciting final minutes.

Reber's record-setting day surpassed the 398 passing yards that he had achieved earlier this season, and his five touchdowns bettered the previous mark of four that he had reached on a pair of occasions. He outdueled Craig, who entered as the country's leading passer with 2,368 passing yards in six games. Craig finished with 388 yards on 42-of-67 passing and four touchdowns.
Cross finished with 153 yards receiving on five catches, including two scores. Patrick Jacobs had 72 yards on seven grabs, and Radke had 83 yards on three receptions. Page led MU's ground game with 89 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, the Monarchs were led by D.J. Payne, who had 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Marlon Thomas added nine tackles, Mike Jones had 2.0 sacks and Tyler Mitchell chipped in a pair of passes defended.
Griffin Roelle had a game-high 10 receptions for 75 yards to lead the Panthers. Jackson wound up with 115 yards on eight grabs, including two touchdowns, and Oge had 81 yards on seven receptions. Young led LC with 46 yards rushing as MU limited LaGrange to a net gain of just 42 yards on the ground.
Jordan Chambers racked up 15 tackles, including 12 solo stops, and a forced fumble to lead the Panthers' defensive effort. Carter had nine tackles (2.5 for loss) in addition to his fumble return for a score, and Shaun Nichols had seven tackles, with 2.5 coming behind the line of scrimmage.

The Monarchs return to the field next Saturday at Greensboro beginning at 1:00 pm.

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