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.
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.
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.
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.
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.