Homecoming is a phenomenal event for both fans and players alike.  Re-uniting of friends, past teammates, and meeting the alums whose shoulders the Greenville College Football team was built on is an exciting time.  Coach Robbie Schomaker was fully aware of how these things can also become distractions for Saturday afternoon’s game.  With the University of Northwestern Eagles coming to town, the opponent was enough of a challenge without any distractions.  Add in a parade and the annual Championship Play, Championship Lives bowl and the Panthers had very full plates.

Greenville started the game with the ball with hopes to please their fans and continue the process of becoming a great football team this year. Yet, on their very first drive, the Panthers fumbled the ball and Northwestern recovered! As Northwestern capitalized and punched in a touchdown, Greenville was quickly down 7-0. The Panthers then took possession on their own 25-yard line but before they knew it, faced a 4th and 1 in their own territory that caused them to punt the ball to Northwestern. Once again, Northwestern took the ball and found the end zone, which put Greenville down 14-0.  Were the Panthers, who had battled all year through adversity, going to get blown out on their homecoming game, when so many fans and alumni came out to support their undefeated season?  It continued to look like that would be the case when Greenville came out the next 3 drives and punted the ball 2 more times as well as throwing an interception.  Stack those failures to convert with Northwestern adding on 6 more points and the Panthers looked to be in dire straights.   Didn’t the team get the memo about focus?!

“NO DISTRACTIONS, NO EXCUSES!”  The Panthers refocused with a look of nastiness in their eyes and came out ROARING! Refusing to back down from adversity, refusing to give up hope when all hope “should” be lost, and refusing to deny their greatness as a team, the Panthers forgot what was behind them and strained towards what was ahead of them. Strapping up, buckling down, and ready to get after it, the Greenville College Panthers sparked a fuse in their hearts and refused to give in!  Senior Running Back Shawn McKnight would supply the first spark to get the Panthers back into gear with a 46-yard run up the far sideline.   Senior Quarterback Brendan Chambers would finish the drive by connecting with Freshman Wide Receiver Michael Green for a 9-yard touchdown pass and the Panthers were finally on the scoreboard. As the Panther Defense united and made big hits and big plays, Northwestern was forced to punt.  Taking the field once again, this time with under 2 minutes to play in the half, the Panther Offense once again found pay dirt on yet another passing touchdown.  This time, Quarterback Brendan Chambers connected with tight-end Nathan Butler for a 1 yard receiving touchdown that put the Panthers within 7 as the half ended.  Smelling fear in the Eagles and regaining momentum (with the help of the support from the Panther fans) Greenville forced and recovered a fumble to start the 3rd quarter.  In just 4 plays, the Panthers punched in a 1-yard touchdown run from Running Back Jacob Stull and the lead was now 21-20 in favor of the Panthers! Down 20 to start the game and now up 21-20, the Panthers refused to let the score dictate how they played the rest of the game and the Panthers focused on the “process” of finishing.   Northwestern would not go down easily.  Driving the field, the Eagles booted a field goal to again take the lead, this time 23-21.  Greenville began to “pound the rock” as Zibeon Washington, Jacob Stull and Brendan Chambers all took turns running the ball until the Panthers finished off another drive with a 2-yard rush for a touchdown. The score was now 28-23 in favor of Greenville. A rush for a loss of 1, a loss of 10, a false start, and incomplete pass was the result of Northwestern’s next series following Greenville’s touchdown as the Panther Defense, continued to step up and make big stops.  Backed up in their end zone, Northwestern chose to punt the ball facing a long 4th down and the Panther’s Special Teams came up with a HUGE PLAY!  Blocking Northwestern’s put for a safety, the Panthers were now up by 7 and got the ball back!  Taking advantage of the situation, the Panthers proceeded to march down the field.  After entering into Northwestern’s red zone, the Panthers drive finally stalled.  Facing a 4th and 2 from the 17, Coach Schomaker decided to keep the field goal unit on the sideline.  As the crowd noise and sidelines intensified, you could feel that Northwestern was in a make-or-break position.  Sophomore Running Back Jacob Stull came through in the clutch, not needing to pick up the first down but instead taking the ball to the house for his 3rd touchdown of the day.  Greenville was now up by 14 and as Northwestern made their last efforts to keep the game alive, Freshman Defensive Back Richard Wilburn for the Panthers intercepted Jacob Fletcher’s pass from Northwestern and gave the ball back to Greenville. The game
clock hit 0 as the Panthers pulled out an epic victory against the always-tough Northwestern Eagles!  WHAT A GAME!  

Greenville is now 7-0 on the season and 6-0 in the UMAC Conference! Next week, Greenville plays on the road against Iowa Wesleyan in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Be sure to stay connected and continue to support your Greenville College Panthers this season!  We need you fans! GO PANTHERS!

Greenville College Football © 2009 by Jered Schneider.