Tiny Concordia College scored three touchdowns in the final twelve minutes to defeat Clark Atlanta 22-17 and give Don Lee his first win as the Hornets new head coach.
Lee, the Hornets former defensive coordinator, was named head coach on Wednesday after Shepherd Skanes was released. Skanes had been with the program since the school returned to intercollegiate play in 2005 and had compiled a 30-40 record.
Clark Atlanta jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half on a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter. Charles King fired a pass to receiver David Grace for a 39 yard score.
The Panthers mounted a second successful drive from their 21 yard line. Junior running back Jay Carter capped the 11 play drive with a 21 yard touchdown run.
Twenty-five minutes elapsed before any more points reached the scoreboard. A face mask penalty on the Hornets’ Tobias Griffin spotted the Panthers offense position near midfield. Getting points out of the drive should have been a snap but the Panthers couldn’t decide whether to go forward or backward. Clark Atlanta racked up 15 negative yards on three consecutive false start penalties and 11 yards on tackles in the backfield. The Hornets helped their opponents out by jumping off-sides twice. The second off-sides penalty negated a blocked 34 yard field goal. Junior Austin Casillas made good on the attempt from closer in.
Smiles turned to blank looks and then to worry as the Hornets chipped away at the 17 point lead in the fourth quarter. A 32 yard punt gave Concordia excellent field position at the Panthers 40 yard line. Immoni Carswell, playing in place of starter Keith Ray, connected with Antwon Armstrong for 9 yards and scrambled for another 11 yards to get inside the redzone for the first time in the game. Carswell’s 17 yard pass to Armstrong gave the Hornets first and goal at the Panthers 2. Junior running back Terrell Edwards-May took over from there bashing through the middle for a 1 yard touchdown. The decision to go for it, surprisingly didn’t come from the coaching staff. “They came over and said ‘Coach believe in us’ and I said alright I’ll give it to you let’s go,” said Lee.
Playing with an eye towards the future, Coach Lee went for the two-point conversion. Carswell called his own number and made it count.
The Panthers continued to misfire on offense and using up only three minutes of the clock. The momentum had clearly shifted to the visitors sideline.
Carswell used up only 4 seconds to put the Hornets in striking position with a 74 yard bomb to Jeremy Morris. Following Martavious Stewart’s two-point conversion, the Hornets were suddenly a safety or more away from victory.
The Hornets defense continued to shine limiting the Panthers offense to three and out. With a minute twenty five to play, Carswell went exclusively to the air after the coaching staff noticed a tendency in the Clark Atlanta secondary. “I seen them turning a little bit and bailing,” said Lee. “I told him Bird (aka Patrick Austin) it’s coming to you. You can make us or break us and he rose up to the occasion.” Austin caught a short pass from Carswell, shed one blocker and brushed off attempts by two other defenders to knock him out of bounds for a 38 yard game winning touchdown.
Clark Atlanta drops to 1-3 on the season and will face neighborhood rival Morehouse College next week. Concordia moves to 2-1 as they head home to take on the College of Faith.
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