BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Birmingham-Southern College scored the game’s first two touchdowns and held off a late Berry College rally as the Panthers prevailed, 23-17, on Saturday.
The Vikings dropped to 2-5 and 1-3 in the Southern Athletic Association. BSC moved to 3-5, 3-1.
Berry’s Dale Jackson was 24-55 passing for 259 yards. He had two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Chris Lilly had a team-best 96 receiving yards on six catches for the Vikings.
Samir Usman rushed for 120 yards on 18 carries for the Panthers. Teammate Joe Moultrie added 87 yards and scored two rushing TDs.
BC’s first touchdown was set up by a turnover after a Berry punt in the second quarter. Eugene Fabrizio forced a BSC fumble and Mamadou Soumahoro recovered for the Vikings on the Panther five-yard line. On the next play, Dale Jackson tossed a touchdown strike to Trey Ciresi (six catches, 64 yards). Campbell Harrison‘s extra point moved the score to BSC 13, Berry 7.
The Panthers added another touchdown. With 1:19 left in the half, Harrison attempted a 32-yard field goal but he missed wide right. The score remained 20-7 at the break.
In the third quarter, Jackson hooked up with Josh Bullock on a 10-yard scoring play. Harrison’s PAT pushed the score to 20-14. Bullock had 72 receiving yards on eight receptions in the contest.
The Panthers later tacked on a field goal before Harrison booted a 35-yarder himself to reduce the lead to 23-17 with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Berry then forced a three-and-out and got the ball back with 1:36 remaining. The Vikings picked up one first down, but later turned the ball over on downs on the Panther 46 yard line.
The BC defense forced another three-and-out and forced a Panther punt. The Vikes took over at its own 30-yard line. Two plays later, however, Devante Smith intercepted Jackson to seal the win.
Berry led BSC in passing yards (259-208). Yet the Panthers had the edge in rushing yards (215-26).
On defense, Matt Farinella paced the BC defense with 10 tackles, including seven solo stops. Fabrizio had five tackles, two for losses, and the forced fumble. Jeremy Pinkston returned an interception 62 yards and Jordan Arnett had an interception for Berry .
Mitchell Blanchard had another strong day on special teams. He punted seven times for a 41.6 yard average and placed three kicks inside the 20-yard line.
“We had our chances as we missed two field goals and that proved to be the difference in the game. We left some plays out there,” said Berry Head Coach Tony Kunczewski. “Of course, we give credit to Birmingham-Southern as they run a good program. We didn’t play as well on special teams, which is rare for us. Nevertheless, I’m proud of our effort today and we are still improving and on the right track.”
The Vikings host Millsaps College next weekend. The game is Friday/Halloween night and kicks off at 7 p.m. at Barron Stadium.