published Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Sewanee hosting 3-0 Panthers with 2-1 record

The last three football seasons, Sewanee went 3-26 and lost 49-0, 34-17 and 50-10 to Birmingham-Southern.

As the Tigers begin their last round of Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play this Saturday at home against BSC's Panthers, they are 2-1 under new coach Tommy Laurendine.

Sewanee's loss was to the nationally ranked Washington and Lee Generals in nonconference play, so Saturday's 1 p.m. CDT contest is its first real barometer of progress.

Birmingham-Southern is 3-0 after a Hail Mary win last Saturday. Actually, the Panthers beat Ave Maria University 43-7 in Naples, Fla., and needed no desperation heroics: They led 34-7 at halftime and outgained the Gyrenes 461-216 in offensive yards. It was the first home game ever for Ave Maria.

Sewanee, meanwhile, was at the other end of the country, getting a 34-23 win in Tacoma, Wash., over Puget Sound. It was the longest trip in the history of the program known for a perfect train excursion of five wins in six days and an overall 12-0 record in 1899 and later being a charter member of the Southeastern Conference.

Sewanee trailed Puget Sound 10-0 after one quarter but scored the next 34 points, led offensively by sophomore quarterback Curtis Johnson and senior fullback Zeke Wilson in Laurendine's triple-option offense. Johnson accounted for 158 yards of total offense and two rushing touchdowns. He was 5-for-7 for 132 passing yards.

The Tigers ran for 218 yards compared to 81 for the Loggers, and the Sewanee defense has made two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Sewanee has outscored its three opponents 80-64 and has outgained them 863-412 on the ground. While the Tigers have thrown only 20 passes, completing 12 for 208 yards, they have given up 616 passing yards but picked off four throws.

Wilson has averaged 58.7 rushing yards a game, followed closely by slotback Ben Cleveland with 54.3, and four others -- including Johnson and fellow sophomore quarterback Lee Schurlknight -- have averaged more than 33 yards. Cleveland and Chad Morehead have each caught four passes, totaling 71 and 66 yards.

Birmingham-Southern won 28-7 at LaGrange to open the season and then edged Huntingdon 35-29 in double-overtime.

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