Centre downs Birmingham Southern 45-20 in matchup of unbeatens

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The Centre College football team shut out No. 24 Birmingham Southern College in the second half to pull away for a 45-20 victory in a matchup of undefeated Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference teams Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.

With the win, Centre moves to 5-0 on the season with a 2-0 record in the SCAC. After dropping Birmingham Southern to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference, Centre and Trinity are the only remaining SCAC unbeaten teams.

The game had the makings of a shootout early on when the teams combined to score touchdowns on six of the first seven possessions. However, after the Panthers took their only lead at 20-14 with 8:57 to go in the second quarter, Centre shut them out the rest of the way and rolled off 31 unanswered points to win comfortably.

It was the Colonels who got on the board first, going 69 yards on 11 plays on the opening series with senior running back Jonathan Pinque (Athens, Ala.) plunging in from three yards out for the touchdown. Birmingham Southern came right back on its first possession, marching 75 yards in 11 plays with Shawn Morris, the SCAC's leading rusher, scoring on a three yard run of his own.

Centre was able to respond and go back up 14-7 on the next series when Pinque scored his second touchdown of the day on a 21 yard pass from senior quarterback Tyler Osterman (Monroe, Ohio). Again the Panthers answered, this time with quarterback Jimmy Stainback scoring on a 10 yard run, though Centre was able to hold onto a 14-13 lead after a missed extra point.

Birmingham Southern then took its only lead of the day, turning the short field from an interception into a 4-play, 34 yard drive and a two yard touchdown run by Morris.

Though Birmingham Southern led 20-14, it was the last score the Panthers would manage as Centre took control of the game. The Colonels took back the lead at 21-20 when junior running back Monte Scotton (Cleveland, Tenn.) scored from 39 yards out on the next series. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Colonels went 80 yards in nine plays, capped by Tyler Osterman hooking up with Jason Osterman (Monroe, Ohio) on a three yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds before the half for a 28-20 lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Colonels would only add to the lead as they put the game away. Junior kicker Jordan Gay (Danville, Ky.) booted a 33-yard field goal to extend the lead to two possessions at 31-20 early in the fourth. After forcing a Panthers punt, Centre was able to bleed 7:59 off the clock on a 12-play, 80 yard drive before Scotton plunged in from a yard out to make the score 38-20 with 3:05 to go.

On the next play from scrimmage, senior linebacker Jared Ferguson (Monroe, Ohio) put the game away by picking off a Stainback pass in the flat and going 21 yards for the touchdown.

For the game, Centre rolled up 455 yards of total offense while holding the SCAC's leading offense to 304 yards. Tyler Osterman was 18-of-26 through the air for two touchdowns while Jason Osterman was the leading receiver with six catches for 69 yards and a score.

The Colonels' dual-threat backfield of Pinque and Scotton combined for 263 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. Scotton had 14 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns while catching three balls for 37 yards. Pinque picked up 56 yards and a touchdown on the ground while catching three balls for 73 yards and another score.

In addition to the interception and touchdown, Ferguson made eight tackles, tying him for the team lead with junior linebacker Michael Bozarth (Mount Washington, Ky.).

Next week, the Colonels return to Danville for a homecoming matchup with Sewanee (3-4, 0-3 SCAC) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Farris Stadium.

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