With less than 2 minutes left of play, the Panthers looked down the barrel of adversity as the scoreboard reflected a 6-point deficit. Greenville was in a battle all game long with the visiting College of St. Scholastica Saints. Both teams were striving to claim the UMAC Conference title, as both teams were undefeated in conference play. Drive after drive, play after play, the game went back and forth all the way up until the final play.
• The Panthers came into the game against St. Scholastica with hopes of becoming the first team in the program’s history to finish the regular season undefeated. As Greenville’s seniors were recognized on the last home game of their career, the Panther’s remembered how their season had been filled with great memories that will last them a lifetime. From games that were decided by anywhere from 1 to 30 points, to road trips visiting the Mall of America and staying up late bonding with each other, the Greenville College Panthers had built themselves a season to take pride in. Greenville had thought they had seen it all; down to a blocked field goal, games where they were down by 3 touchdowns and games where they traveled 12 hours away to play. Yet, “adversity never goes away” and this Saturday, senior day, Greenville squared off against St. Scholastica. St. Scholastica came into Greenville picked by pundits to win the UMAC Conference for the 3rd time this year. This game would be the biggest test of the season thus far for the Panthers.
Electing to kick the ball after winning the coin toss, the Greenville College Panthers started on defensive against the Saints. The Panther defense stepped up early and on Scholastica’s first 4 consecutive drives caused the Saints to give the ball back to the Panthers. The Saints were forced to punt the ball 3 times and turned the ball over on downs one time as a result of a sack by Sophomore linebacker Jonathan Uperesa. In the first quarter, the Panther Defense shutout the Saints, led by seniors Cody Lopez and Isaac Barber, the Panthers had 57 total tackles, 2 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, and 1 interception, as well as a blocked extra point. With the defense stepping up early, the Panther Offense looked to capitalize and put points on the scoreboard.
With 7:44 left in the first quarter, the Panther Offense took the field and drove the ball down to score the first touchdown of the game. Transfer Running Back Zibeon Washington had 4 carries on the Panthers’ first scoring drive for 21 yards and senior Quarterback Brendan Chambers finished things off with a touchdown pass to freshman Wide Receiver John Dudley for 29 yards. This was Dudley first touchdown grab of the season. The Panthers were up 7-0 after the PAT from senior kicker Josh Frewin was good.
In the start of the second quarter, the game took a momentum turn in favor of the visiting Saints. The Saints put up 21 unanswered points in the second quarter and ended the half up 21-7.
Greenville huddled together at halftime and contemplated what to do. Led by Head Coach Robbie Shomaker, the Panthers were reminded of the adversity that they had gone through all year. The Panthers “had been here before” and they had seen what the face of adversity looks like. The Panthers knew that by being assignment sound and competing their brains out that they could close the gap of their potential. The start of the second half began and the Panthers took the field with the mindset that they were not to be denied.
In the 3rd quarter, the Panthers battled with the Saints and neither team would break. The score remained the same, 21-7 in favor of the Saints, in the start of the 4th quarter. Refusing to quit and refusing to let adversity shape the way they played the game, the Greenville College Panthers came out firing. With the Panther Defense up against their own goal line, giving it their all to stop the Saints, Freshman Cornerback Richard Wilburn came up with a huge interception in the end-zone that gave the ball back the to Panther Offense. After the Panther Offense drove the ball down the field, they faced a roadblock, as it was 4th down with 3 yards to go. Greenville’s Punt team took the field.
The Saints sent out their Punt Return unit and on the snap of the ball, it was a fake! Freshman Linebacker Nicholas Morrow ran the ball past the unsuspecting Saints for a Panther first down! With the ball still in their hands, the Panthers’ Offense continued to drive the ball down the field. Transfer Running Back Zibeon Washington pounded in a 5-yard Panther touchdown! The score was now 21-14 with Scholastica still in front.
Scholastica used some trickery of their own as they scored a touchdown on a reverse that put the Panthers back down by two scores. Hopes were still high as a blocked PAT left the door open with the score 27-14.
Greenville scored quickly in just under 1 minute as Senior Quarterback Brendan Chambers ran in the Panthers’ touchdown from 9 yards out. The score was now 27-21 in favor of Scholastica, but the Panthers were not backing down. After Greenville kicked an onside kick that was recovered by the Saints, all hope should have been lost. Yet chants of, “We believe!” permeated the stadium. With only 1:37 on the clock and the Saints in possession of the ball, the Panthers could have easily given up all hope. Yet, giving up is not in the Panther’s mentality as this season has shaped them all year for a moment like this. After a stout defensive series, St. Scholastica was forced to punt! With 1:05 left in the game and no timeouts, the Greenville College Panthers took the field on their own 30-yard line, down by 6. A touchdown and PAT would put the Panthers up by 1. The Panthers first pass, complete for 10 yards, now put the ball on the GC 40. Could the Panthers do it? The second pass, incomplete. There is now under a minute left to play. Third pass, complete for 15 yards! The ball was now in St. Scholastica territory! Could it be!? Another pass fell incomplete. The next play, holding on the Offense, the Panthers were moved back 10 yards. The Panthers had 3 passes left and in the next 3 plays threw 3 incomplete passes. The game ended and the Panthers lost 27-21.
Greenville showed in the Afterglow that they were a team built around the teachings of Jesus Christ and the cornerstone of Love. They are a team that refused to quit all year long and a team that has built a brotherhood with one another that will last a lifetime. The final score may have reflected a loss but after the game the Greenville College Panthers huddled together, some with laughter, some with tears, and began to reflect on the season’s memories and the way each and everyone has grown through this 2013 football season.
Thank you fans for your support this regular season and lets hope and pray that the Panthers will get to play one more game this year in the Victory Bowl.