Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Millsaps Athletics

JACKSON – Third-ranked Millsaps racked up 565 yards of total offense and scored on its first five possessions, and for the first time in 33 years, they are headed to the second round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs with a 51-26 win against LaGrange College Saturday afternoon at Harper Davis Field.

The win for Millsaps also marked the first time since 2002 an SCAC team has won in the postseason.

Senior QB Juan Joseph had another outstanding day in helping the Majors tie a school-record with their 13th consecutive win, connecting on 31-of-46 passes for a season-high 352 yards and three TDs. With the performance, Joseph moved into second all-time on the SCAC's career passing list with 8,962 yards and needs just 47 more passing yards to become the conference's career leader.

Seven different receivers caught two or more passes, including seniors Eric McCarty and Raymece Savage who went for 99 and 93 yards on a combined 17 catches. Junior Tye Menist had a career day with two catches for 52 yards and an 18-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter.

LaGrange (9-2) gave Millsaps all it could handle with its high-powered offense, gaining 488 yards of total offense behind 360 yards passing from QB Drew Carter and a game-high 96 yards rushing from Gerald Reed. Making their first playoff appearance in school history, the Panthers turned in quite an impressive day and season behind head coach Todd Mooney, setting or tying a combined 164 school records.

Going over the 40-point mark for the eighth time this season, Millsaps (11-0) took an early 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter behind a 2-yard TD rush from freshman Shane Bowser and a 37-yard field goal from sophomore Taylor Russolino.

After going three-and-out on their first two possessions, the Panthers found the equalizer on the ensuing drive behind an excellent 41-yard kick return from Mario Wallace down to Millsaps' 43-yard line. From there, LaGrange drove the final 43 yards on five plays over 1:39, using a 30-yard hookup from Carter to Devin Billings to bring the score to within three at 10-7 in favor of the Majors.

Twenty-one unanswered points for Millsaps over the next 13:40 off a pair of Joseph TD tosses and a Kenny Metzger 20-yard scamper gave the home team a 31-7 advantage before a 55-yard TD reception from LaGrange's Eric Miller brought the score to 31-14 at intermission – the closest the Panthers would get.

Millsaps opened up a 24-point lead with a quick touchdown drive on its second possession of the third quarter, taking advantage of the short field after holding LaGrange on 4th-and-1 from its own 40. Joseph hit Donnie Epps for 22-yards and then Menist for 18-yards, capping a 2-play, 22 second drive.

LaGrange scored off an 8-yard connection from Carter to Miller in the fourth to bring it to 38-20, but 13 unanswered from Millsaps off a pair of Russolino field goals and a 64-yard interception return from Sam Herman sealed the deal for the Majors and made the final 51-26.

Senior Cap White's 10 tackles for Millsaps led all players, while Jacob Hanberry had eight and both Lee Klein and Denarold Anderson had seven. The Majors also had five sacks on the day, with Kyle Hughes, Will Hawkins, White, Anderson and Klein each getting a piece of the quarterback.

With a 35-29 win over Christopher Newport, Washington & Jefferson will travel to Harper Davis Field next weekend for a Second Round matchup. The Majors and Presidents will kickoff at Noon CST in Jackson.

Game Notes:
Millsaps improved to 2-2 all-time in the NCAA Playoffs
Millsaps tied a school record with its 13th-straight victory
Joseph went over 300-yards passing for the third time in four games
LaGrange ended the year breaking 164 combined school records