Berry upsets LaGrange with 16-13 overtime victory

ROME, Ga. — Berry College opened Valhalla in fine fashion as the Vikings defeated LaGrange, 16-13 in overtime, at Williams Field on Saturday.

The Vikings improved to 1-1 and the Panthers fell to 0-2.

The day at Berry started with a dedication of Valhalla and then a standing room only crowd of 4,500 filled the venue. The fans enjoyed a competitive battle and the second straight overtime game between the teams.

After the Berry defense held LaGrange in the first overtime possession, Mitchell Blanchard nailed a 36-yard field goal to give Berry the victory. Blanchard converted all three field goal attempts in the game and also averaged 41.3 yards on seven punts.

“It feels magical. I know we said that after last year’s Mountain Day win, but this game may have topped that,” said Berry Head Coach Tony Kunczewski.

In the first quarter, Berry responded to an early Panthers’ score. Chris Lilly caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Dale Jackson and Blanchard’s PAT bumped the score to 7-7.

Early in the second quarter, LaGrange scored its last points of the contest on a seven-yard pass from Connor Blair (36-of-49 for 320 yards, 2 TDs and an INT) to Untorrey Thomas. The PAT was blocked by Preston Stewart (nine tackles, four solo).

Blanchard converted from 25 yards with 9:36 left in the second quarter to close the gap to 13-10. The score remained the same at halftime.

The third quarter produced no points for either team. Blanchard tacked on a field goal to tie the contest at 13-13 with 9:06 left in regulation.

The Vikings’ defense put on a goal line stand to send the game to extra time. LaGrange had a first down and goal from the five-yard line in the final minute. Berry, however, stopped three running plays inside the two-yard-line to hold the Panthers.

On LaGrange’s overtime series, Connor Frear missed a 35-yarder on a fourth down play. Berry then ran three running plays to setup Blanchard for the game-winner.

On offense, the Vikings totaled 211 net rushing yards—a new team record. Jackson was 10-of-28 passing but had a game-high 92 rushing yards (another program high) on 14 carries.

Kreg Keiffer led the Vikings’s defense with 10 tackles. Bernard Granville and Mamado Soumahoro each recovered a fumble and Andrew Brady had an interception.

“We really appreciate the support of the Berry community,” Kunczewski said. “The fans were great today and I hope they keep coming out to support us.”

Berry returns to action next Saturday at Valhalla against Rhodes. Kickoff is 1 p.m.in the SAA opener for both teams.

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