Goal-line stand, overtime field goal lifts Berry to victory

ROME, Ga. — Berry College used excitement surrounding the opening of its new stadium and a bit of late-game heroics in a 16-13 overtime win over in-state foe LaGrange College.

With the game knotted at 13 and time ticking down in the fourth quarter, LaGrange looked as if they might cross the goal line to dampen the mood at the newly christened Valhalla Stadium. The visiting Panthers were well-positioned after Lavell Meeks’ dazzling 45-yard reception put LaGrange on the Berry five-yard line with less than a minute to play.

LaGrange sought to pound the ball in on third and fourth downs. But, a stout Vikings defense held firm, sending the Berry faithful into a frenzy.

LaGrange forced Berry to punt from the back of their end zone as time expire, sending the game to overtime.

LaGrange’s Connor Frear missed a 35-yard field goal, leaving the score even at 13. Berry failed to pick up a first down after three straight rushing attempts paving the way for a game winning 36-yard field goal from Mitchell Blanchard.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of the program’s first-ever contest two years ago. A standing-room only crowd of 4,500 filled the new stadium to witness the historic evening.

Saturday’s game marked the second straight year the teams battled to overtime. LaGrange came out on top last year 28-27 in a thrilling double overtime victory.

The win marked the fourth in Berry’s history and the third against a varsity squad. Interestingly, Berry’s first win came in 2013 against the LaGrange JV squad.

Berry’s first proper win came last year against Washington. The overtime win had been dubbed as the “Mountain Day Miracle” as it came on the school’s equivalent of homecoming.

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

Berry (1-1) hosts Rhodes (2-0) next week, looking for its first-ever win streak. LaGrange  (0-2) hosts Ave Maria (0-2).

About the author

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.