MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- Four turnovers and 13 penalties by Huntingdon proved to cost the Hawks, in the 35-20 loss at home. Birmingham-Southern was able to score 14 points off of the Hawks turnovers.
Sophomore Nick Plagenhoef was credited with four total turnovers, including a costly interception in the end zone during the fourth quarter. Plagenhoef finished 23-of-38 for 312 yards, with three touchdowns and four total turnovers on the day.
Huntingdon posted a season low 388 total yards of offense. The Hawks allowed 370 total yards to the Panthers, including 268 rushing yards after only allowing an average of 72 rushing yard per game.
In the first half, the Hawks were plagued by eight penalties for 85 yards and kept off of the scoreboard for the first time on the season. The Panthers held Huntingdon to 147 total yards of offense in the first half.
Huntingdon failed to convert on fourth down during their first two offensive drives of the game, including two turnovers one coming by fumble from sophomore Nick Plagenhoef to sophomore Caleb McCants and second turnover by interception.
Birmingham-Southern found the end zone after a Nick Plagenhoef interception. The Panthers drove the ball 61 yards on ten plays, before scoring on a 29-yard touchdown pass from senior Joe Thigpen to junior Justin Bishop for the 7-0 lead, with 9:58 to play in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Hawks offense continued to struggle getting in rhythm. Birmingham-Southern extended the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter, from a twelve play 66 yard drive. The Panthers capped the drive on a one-yard touchdown coming from senior Walter Arrington, with 11:04 to play in the first half.
Birmingham-Southern started the second half with a ten play 70-yard drive, including a six yard touchdown run by sophomore Shawn Morris. The Panthers second-half opening drive score put the Hawks down 21-0 for the first time this season.
The Hawks offense starting clicking on the fourteen play 84 yard touchdown drive to close the gap to 21-6, after a missed extra point by sophomore Corey Robertson. Plagenhoef was able to connect with senior Bobby Dunlap on a four-yard pass to cap the drive. Sophomore Trevor Manuel helped continue the long drive after converting a fourth and one on the Hawks own 26 yard line.
On the next drive, senior defensive lineman Chase Hughes recovered a Panthers fumble to setup the Hawks offense on the Birmingham-Southern 16 yard line. Plagenhoef found freshman Tyler Hall on a 16-yard touchdown pass to bring the game score to 21-12. After each team exchanged penalties, the Hawks couldn’t convert the two-point conversion with 4:37 to go in the third quarter.
The Panthers answered back with a four play 66 yard drive, with 1:10 left in the third quarter. Birmingham-Southern continued to bruise the Hawks when senior quarterback Joe Thigpen scored on a 12-yard run, extending the lead to 28-12.
At the start of the fourth quarter, sophomore Nick Plagenhoef hit sophomore Cody Pearcy on the first play of the drive for a 91-yard touchdown pass. After the successful two-point conversion pass to junior Willie McDowell, the Hawks only trailed by eight points 28-20.
Junior Kirk Johnson stopped the Panthers’ Shawn Morris on a third and two run play forcing the punt. Birmingham-Southern was hit with a catch interference call as senior Bobby Dunlap tried to make a fair catch on the punt. The penalty setup the Hawks drive on midfield.
Huntingdon looked to tie the game up on the seven play 50 yard drive, before Plagenhoef threw the most costly interception of the day to sophomore linebacker Brain Gray in the Panthers own end zone. The turnover came on a third and goal on the two yard line with just under ten minutes remaining in the game.
Birmingham-Southern capitalized on the Hawks turnover, with a 13 play 80 yard drive ending with the score to seal the Wesley Cup victory. The Panthers converted on a fourth and two to keep the drive alive. Senior quarterback Joe Thigpen put the game out of reach with a 5-yard touchdown run. The score made the game 35-20 with just over one minute left in the game.
Sophomore Austin Worley gave the Hawks great field position with a 36-yard kickoff return to the Birmingham-Southern 38 yard line. After two straight incomplete passes, Plagenhoef threw his final interception to freshman linebacker Cameron Budzius to end the Hawks comeback attempt, with 56 seconds on the clock.
Huntingdon was led by sophomore Trevor Manuel was 68 rushing yards on 14 carries in the game. Junior Cody Pearcy eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the fourth-straight game in the loss, with 115 yards and one touchdown reception.
The Panthers were led by senior Walter Arrington on the ground with 108 rushing yards, including one touchdown. Senior quarterback Joe Thigpen recorded 76 yards on the ground and 102 passing yards, with two total touchdowns.
Defensively, the Hawks were led by junior safety Keith Anthony with a new-school record of 17 total tackles, including 12 solo tackles. Junior Kirk Johnson followed with 15 total stops, including six solo tackles and one sack.
The Hawks fall to 3-1 on the season and look to rebound when they play host to third-ranked Wesley on Saturday, October 2nd. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Samford Stadium.