SHERMAN, Texas – Birmingham-Southern had three touchdowns of at least 75 yards in the opening half, including two special teams touchdowns, and Austin College fell short in a fourth quarter comeback bid in a 31-24 loss to the Panthers on Saturday. The ‘Roos fall to 3-5 overall and 1-5 in Southern Athletic Association play.
The ‘Roos looked to be off to a strong start as Birmingham-Southern faced third and long on the first series of the game, but Trevor Oakes floated a long pass that somehow managed to get through multiple Austin College defenders and right to Jamal Watkins, who went 76 yards for the touchdown on the fourth play of the game to make it 7-0.
Austin College would even things up later in the quarter, using a seven play, 58-yard drive that was capped off by an 11-yard touchdown run by Colt Collins to make it 7-7 after one. Austin College was on the verge of taking a three point lead early in the second quarter as Cesar Ruiz lined up for a 35-yard field goal attempt at the end of a 13 play, 70-yard drive but his kick was blocked, and Wes Guilford returned it 75-yards for the touchdown for a 10-point swing to make it 14-7.
The ‘Roos put together another strong drive on the ensuing possession, going 68 yards in 12 plays with Collins finding Kyle Mucerino for a 24-yard touchdown strike to even things up with 4:59 left in the half. However, the score wouldn’t remain tied for long as the Panthers used another explosive play to regain the lead, this time with Watkins taking the kickoff 85 yards to the house to make it 21-14 heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, Austin College would add three points on a 24-yard field goal by Ruiz with 7:09 left in the period to make it 21-17 but the Panthers would get on the board late in the quarter to take an 11-point lead into the fourth. After picking off Collins at the Austin College 40-yard line, the Panthers got a 2-yard touchdown run from Hunter Kountz to make it 28-17 after three.
After punts by both teams to start the fourth, Austin College marched 87 yards in just eight plays, highlighted by a 24-yard scramble from Collins and capped off by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Collins to Evan Powell to make it 28-24 with nine minutes to play. Both teams turned the ball over on downs in the next two possessions, but BSC would get a 24-yard run and then a 22-yard run by Kyler Jackson to get into Austin College territory, and Ryder Andrews had just enough leg to convert a 51-yard field goal to make it 31-24 with 27 seconds left.
Austin College returned the ensuing kickoff to the Birmingham-Southern 41-yard line, but a final deep attempt by Collins was picked off to seal the game for the Panthers.
Austin College out-gained BSC 434 to 261 in the game, and had 25 first downs to just 11 for the Panthers but the two big special teams plays proved to be the difference. Collins completed 26-of-43 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, and added 65 yards on 17 carries with another score. Kevin Ray had seven catches for 77 yards, and Reggie Evans had 30 yards on six carries. Jackson Townsend and Jerry Johnson each made seven tackles and Darlon Chandler had 2.0 sacks to lead the ‘Roo defense.
Oakes completed 13-of-24 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown, with Watkins catching five passes for 93 yards. Jackson carried eight times for 90 yards, and Kountz added 52 yards on 17 rushes. Matthew Byers had 14 tackles, an interception, and also blocked the field goal that resulted in seven points for the Panthers to lead BSC defensively.