ROME, Ga. — Berry College on Sunday picked up the first win in the program’s young history, a 37-27 victory over the JV squad of LaGrange College Panthers.
The Berry Vikings (1-1) set the game’s pace early, scoring the first points in school history on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Adam Sandin to wide receiver Christopher Lilly with 9:22 remaining in the first quarter. Berry had a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 34-7 lead at halftime.
The visiting Panthers turned the tables in the second half as LaGrange outscored Berry 20-3. Berry made a number of substitutions in an effort to find playing time for more of its roster, which is mostly comprised of freshmen.
On getting the first victory for Berry College’s football program, Coach Tony Kunczewski said, “It feels good. Right now, we’re not really worried about wins and losses. We’re worried about getting better each week.” Kunczewski added, “But, it’s good to get some points on the board and get some positive stuff going. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ll keep on getting better each day.”
Adam Sandin ended the day 9 for 14 with 111 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, while also rushing for 36 yards. Backup quarterback Sandon Mims relieved Sandin at times throughout the afternoon and completed five of eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Trevor Price led Berry’s ground attack, rushing for 63 yards on nine carries. Christopher Lilly led the Vikings’ receiving corps, catching four passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns, including Berry’s first ever score.
“It was good to get that out of the way,” Kunczewski said when asked about the first touchdown, which sent the Berry faithful into a frenzy.
The Panthers struggled all afternoon to jump-start their ground game, losing a total of 16 yards on 14 rushing attempts. However, a trio of LaGrange quarterbacks passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns, including a 40-yard pass from Shelby Wilkes to Marcus Allen with 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“They do a great job on offense, and we tried to get everybody to play, too,” Kunczewski said. “We made sure that everybody played in the second half. Of course, you don’t like to get the ball thrown over your heads at the end, but that’s how you learn sometimes.”
Kunczewski added: “I would say some of our younger guys are learning, but we’re all young right now. So, some of our other guys that haven’t played yet, it’s a learning experience for them as well.”
Berry travels to Macon on Saturday to take on the Bears of Mercer University. Mercer, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA, is playing its first football season since the 1940s.
Mercer (2-0) defeated Reinhardt University, another football program startup, on Aug. 31 in a 40-37 shootout. On Saturday, Mercer handily defeated Warner University by a 61-0 margin as the Bears amassed 570 total offensive yards.