It was a day of missed opportunities for the Huntingdon College football team.
The Hawks had the opportunity to put Birmingham-Southern College away early in the second half, the opportunity to knock down a desperation pass on the last play of regulation and the opportunity to win in overtime.
Instead, BSC was the team that made the most of its chances on Saturday. The Panthers made the plays they had to have and won 35-29 in double overtime at Panther Stadium.
"We had some success in the first half, but we couldn't get much going in the second half," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "Birmingham-Southern had something to do with that. They made good adjustments at the half and we weren't able to do much on offense until our final drive in the fourth quarter. You have to give them credit for the way they played."
The Panthers (2-0) came back from the brink of defeat multiple times. BSC rallied from a 21-2 deficit in the second half and took the lead in the fourth quarter. After Huntingdon (1-1) regained the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter, BSC scored on a desperation 41-yard touchdown pass as time expired.
On the play, BSC quarterback Jimmy Stainback heaved a prayer to end zone. The ball was deflected and bounced around several players before Aaron Sherrill came up with it for the touchdown. Bee Hall's extra point forced overtime.
In the first overtime, Huntingdon senior and preseason All-American Keith Anthony ended BSC's possession and tied a Huntingdon record with his 15th career interception. The Hawks ended the first overtime with a missed field goal.
In the second overtime, the Hawks fumbled on their first play. Three plays later, BSC running back Shawn Morris scored on a 9-yard run to end the game.
"This one hurts, especially with the way we lost," Turk said. "A loss like this should hurt. We've put in a lot of hard work and now we have to find a way to get back together and be ready to play with intensity and emotion next week. I told the guys after the game, regardless of whether we won or lost today, now we have to start getting ready for Faulkner next week."
The Hawks host cross-town rival Faulkner University (1-0) on Sept. 17 at 1 p.m.
This marked the second straight year, in the three-year history of the rivalry, that BSC has won the Wesley Cup. Named for John Wesley, the principal founder of the Methodist movement, the Wesley Cup is awarded to the winner of the battle between the two United Methodist Church affiliated programs.
The Hawks got off to a shaky start on Saturday. Junior D.J. Chappell made a big stop on fourth-and-goal at the Huntingdon 1-yard line to stop the Panthers on the first possession of the game. But on the next play, Huntingdon was stopped in the end zone for a safety.
Once Huntingdon got in gear, the Hawks scored three touchdowns in a span of a little more than 17 minutes. Cody Pearcy scored on a 3-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter. Trevor Manuel scored on a 1-yard run late in the second quarter and turned a Neal Posey pass into a 77-yard touchdown on the third play of the third quarter.
Manuel finished with 110 yards rushing on 28 carries, three receptions for 89 yards and 252 all-purpose yards. Posey was 26-of-41 for 290 yards in the game.
But after taking the 21-2 lead, the offense began to struggle. The Hawks scored once on their final six possessions, with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when Manuel threw a halfback pass to Willie McDowell for an 18-yard touchdown.
The other five possessions ended with four punts and a blocked punt. Another possession ended before it could start with a fumble on a punt return.
During that time, the Panthers scored three touchdowns to take a 22-21. Stainback's 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter gave BSC the one-point lead. Stainback finished with 233 yards passing and two touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards. Morris, who scored twice, rushed for 107 yards. The Panthers rushed for 307 yards on 58 carries and finished with 540 yards of offense on 89 plays. Huntingdon had 430 yards of offense on 80 plays.