PINEVILLE, La. – For the second straight week, the Louisiana College football team found itself down by three scores in the fourth quarter and for the second straight week the Wildcats rallied to take the lead late, but this time the job was completed as a fourth down stop secured the come-from-behind victory 34-31 over the Southwestern Pirates Saturday afternoon at Wildcat Field.
The game started well enough for the Wildcats as LC took in the opening kickoff and drove right down the field, including a 39-yard pass from Sal Palermo III to Glenn White that set up LC inside the red zone. Five plays later, following a pass interference penalty in the end zone against Southwestern, Markaylin Milburn took in an option pitch and scooted into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Following an exchange of punts, the LC defense got a fourth down stop which set up the offense near midfield, and they would take advantage. On their own fourth down play, Milburn was able to get on the left edge on another option play for a gain of 12 and a first down. Four plays after that, on another fourth down play, Palermo found Micah Dunn diving across the middle inside the 15 yard line for another conversion. Two plays later, Milburn found a giant hole in the Pirate defense and ran for 12 yards untouched into the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
But that’s where the game seemed to turn. Southwestern got some big runs, then hit on a trick play to set them up in the red zone before a nine-yard touchdown pass cut LC’s lead to 13-7. After LC was forced to punt, Southwestern moved the ball down to the 25-yard line where the Pirates went into the bag of tricks again, using a double pass to get into the end zone and take a 14-13 lead. Later, with time running out in the half, a penalty helped set up Southwestern for a field goal with no time left on the clock to give the Pirates a 17-13 lead at halftime.
Turnovers then put LC in a serious bind in the third quarter. A muffed punt turned into a Pirate touchdown one play later. The Wildcats next drive looked promising but was ended when an interception was taken back to the LC five-yard line. Two plays later, the Pirates hit a touchdown pass for the 31-13 Southwestern lead. Another turnover near midfield seemed to kill LC’s hopes, but a defensive stop got the Wildcats the ball back as the game moved into the fourth quarter.
Following a pair of punts, LC got the ball at their own 35 and started to methodically move the ball down the field, including a stretch of three straight completions to Canaan Leon for a total of 31 yards, and then a third and 19 conversion to Glenn White that put LC inside the ten-yard line. Facing fourth down and needing the score, Palermo lifted a pass to Jacob Ganote right at the goal line for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 31-20 with 7:04 left.
After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, two big plays happened in quick succession to help the Wildcats pull out the win. On second-and-ten from his own 38, Sal Palermo III found Canaan Leon behind the Pirates defense for a 62-yard touchdown pass to get the Wildcats back within 31-26 with 4:23 left in the game following the missed two-point conversion. Then, on Southwestern’s ensuing possession, D’Mario Weathersby picked off a third-and-ten pass and returned it down inside the 20 to set up LC in prime position to take the win. Three plays later, Palermo did it himself, rushing in from three yards out to give LC the lead. Palermo then found Ganote in the back of the end zone to convert the two-point try for the game’s final points with 1:40 left in the contest.
But with the Wildcats replaying what happening a week ago still, they would make sure there would be no repeat of that disappointment when the Pirates got the ball back. Logan Brimmer picked up a sack on first down to put Southwestern behind the chains. Back-to-back pressure plays forced tough throws, including one that was nearly intercepted. A fourth-and-17 pass fell incomplete, and the Wildcats got a first down that ensured the victory.
Sal Palermo III finished the contest 14-of-34 throwing the ball for 238 yards, two passing touchdowns, an interception, ran three times and had a rushing touchdown. Canaan Leon finished the game with five catches for 102 yards and the big 62-yard touchdown catch and run. Glenn White had four catches for 83 yards, including a 39-yard reception. Micah Dunn had three catches for 31 yards with a long of 18.
Devin Briscoe ended up as the team’s leading rusher, picking up 86 yards on eight carries. Markaylin Milburn carried the ball 19 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
D’Mario Weathersby was all over for the Wildcat defense, being credited with nine tackles, an interception which he returned 19 yards, and a pass break up. Ernest Simon and Micah Latin each had six tackles while Latin picked up 2.5 sacks in the contest for a net loss of 13 yards. Wilbert Robertson got in for 1.5 sacks and Logan Brimmer got a sack as well.
The Wildcats (2-1, 2-1 ASC) close out the regular season portion of the abbreviated spring 2021 season next Saturday on the road against Mary Hardin-Baylor. Kickoff against the Crusaders (3-0, 3-0 ASC) is set for noon at Crusader Stadium in Belton, Texas.