Win for Panthers shows promise in multiple game aspects

Last Saturday brought something that many in the Panther nation did not expect out of the football program this season – a win.

The Panthers beat the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, who now have lost 17 consecutive games, 24-23.

“One of our sayings is, ‘guys, we’ve got to believe before this happens.’ At some point, though, you have to have the evidence, so it’s nice to be able to get a ‘W,’” said Head Coach Ron Turner. “I’m sure, like the other side, all our guys have been working their ass off. It was good to see them be rewarded. I’m sure if that field goal went through, they’d have said the same thing on the other side.”

Spearman III has breakout performance

Going into the game against the Golden Eagles, running back Lamarq Caldwell had the majority of the carries for the Panthers with 153 total yards on the season. After the game, Caldwell had only added 32 yards on 12 carries to bring his season total 61 carries for 185 yards.

In comes Silas Spearman III to the game, running for 136 yards on 29 carries, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Spearman, who now has 169 total yards on 49 carries, leads the running back core with average yards per carry (minimum 10 attempts), long run (32 yards) and touchdowns with the two he had in the win against the Golden Eagles.

“It was a combination of both offensive line and running back play. You can’t run the ball if you block anybody and you can’t run the ball if you block people, but you don’t get it up in there. I thought Silas was really hitting it up in there. The last three weeks, he’s really practiced well and he took it to the field,” Turner said.

Spearman III entered this game off of a less than great game against the Cardinals of the University of Louisville in which he put up only 12 yards on 14 attempts.

Kicking game by committee

In the spring, Turner said that the kicking game was Sergio Sroka’s to lose.

He has not lost the whole of it, as he still does the kickoffs for the team, but the job of kicking the extra points and field goals has all but been taken over by freshman, Austin Taylor

Between Sroka and Taylor, the Panthers have made only two of five field goal attempts throughout the season, the longest being a 32 yard kick by Sroka against the Terrapins of the University of Maryland to open the season.

The pair is better in the point after touchdown, converting on five of the six attempts so far this season with Taylor making four of his five attempts.

Punter Chris Ayers, who took a majority of the punts this season along with kicker Taylor and quarterback Jake Medlock, had his slowest game against the Golden Eagles only being used six times with a long of 45 yards and an average of just under 34 yards.

Ayers is currently listed on tied as the eighth most used punter with 36 on the season to date. He is tied with Sean Kelly, the kicker and punter from Florida Atlantic University, who the Panthers will face in the final week of the season in Boca Raton, Fla.

Faciane saves the day

The Golden Eagles started the final drive of the game with only one minute left on the clock at their own 28 yard line.

After three downs, the Golden Eagles converted on fourth and 10 with a completion from quarterback Allan Bridgford to wide receiver Markese Triplett to gain some momentum.

Following that play, the Golden Eagles marched down the field and were aided by two Panthers defensive penalties, an offsides call and a pass interference on cornerback Sam Miller got the Golden Eagles into field goal range.

This is where defensive lineman and NFL prospect, Isame Faciane, got into the middle and blocked a 44 yard attempt from Golden Eagles kicker and punter, Corey Acosta, with six seconds left in the game.

“Me and [Michael] Wakefield, we have a responsibility to blow up the guard, and we looked at each other and were like, ‘Man, we got to get this, we got to go through there and we got to block this,” Faciane said. “And I’m like, ‘Shoot, I’m going to block it, bro, I’m going to block it.’ We got low, put both our hands on him, drove him back. I just jumped up, stuck my hand up and it hit all four of my fingers and fell short,” Faciane said.

Due to the team playing in Miss. and timing for publication, all quotes were courtesy of the Athletic Department of the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Panthers will face the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the annual homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 12 in Miami.

About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

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