Time of Poss.
Averett University freshman Cole Westberry's 36-yard field goal in fourth overtime ended an offensive shootout as the Cougars edged LaGrange College 65-62 in both teams' USA South Conference opener Saturday evening.
Despite a contest that featured high-powered offenses, it was defense that ultimately decided the game over the final two overtime periods and gave Westberry a chance to kick the game-winner. After both teams traded touchdowns through the first two overtimes, Averett (2-2, 1-0 USA South) came up empty on a missed 42-yard field goal attempt. LaGrange (2-2, 0-1 USA South), which had second possession in the third overtime, needed any form of points to win the game. The Panthers had the Cougars' backs against the wall with first-and-goal on Averett's 3-yard line, but Connor Blair lofted a passed across the middle and sophomore Seth Brendle snagged the ball for an interception in the end zone to keep the Cougars alive.
LaGrange, which began the fourth overtime with possession, came up empty thanks to another Blair interception. On third-and-16, sophomore defensive backOctavius Ross picked off Blair at the Averett 3-yard line. That was all the opportunity Averett needed. After three runs on its ensuing possession, Westberry lined up and nailed the game-winning field goal.
A back-and-forth game throughout, Averett looked poised to win in regulation. Tied at 41-41 with 3:59 to play, the Cougars drove down the field easily with back-to-back deep passes from junior quarterback Kelly Hall to senior receiver Terrance Owens II. Hall capped off the six-play, 71-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to help Averett take a 48-41 lead with 1:38 to play in the fourth quarter.
Yet, it wasn't enough at the time. LaGrange got great field position thanks to a penalty and a short kickoff. Averett forced fourth-and-10, but Blair connected with Lavelle Meeks for a 29-yard touchdown pass to tie the game and send it to overtime with 24 seconds left.
Sophomore running back Sean Bowman accounted for four total touchdowns — three rushing and one receiving while racking up 149 rushing yards on 29 carries. Hall threw for a new Averett individual single-game record 388 yards, completing 32 of his 46 passes. Hall threw for one touchdown and ran for two more. Hall's favorite target was Owens, who caught 10 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown — a 40-yard score in the second quarter to set off a scoring frenzy to end the first half.
Owens' touchdown gave Averett a 17-13 advantage with 4:14 left in the second quarter. LaGrange answered with a passing touchdown with 2:45 left in the frame to go in front 20-17. Averett junior Travis Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to the house, only to have LaGrange's Kiontai Button answer with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown seconds later. Averett got a 20-yard field goal from Westberry at the end of the half to tie the game at 27-27 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The four-overtime thriller was the longest game in the program's 17-year history, topping a pair of three-overtime games. Averett also set a program single-game record for points scored, edging its old mark of 62 set against Greensboro College in 2006. The Cougars' 624 yards of total offense fell 10 yards shy of the program record of 634 set against Maryville College in 2006.