Freshman linebacker Rocky Carlisle’s yelling from a sideline huddle could be heard from high atop the Rocky Mount Sports Complex.
Carlisle wasn’t happy with how Saturday’s game started, and frankly, neither was anyone else wearing gold.
N.C. Wesleyan did some good things Saturday against LaGrange College (Ga.), but all of them were overshadowed by a miserable first quarter that saw the Panthers run away with the game. The Bishops made it respectable in the second half, falling, 50-26, but there were far more negatives than positives for the team.
“I feel like we laid an egg,” N.C. Wesleyan coach Jeff Filkovski said. “As I told them at halftime, competing-wise in first quarter put us behind the eight ball. I was disappointed in their effort in the first half.”
The Bishops (1-4, 1-1 USA South Conference) quickly were out of their Homecoming game.
Pass-happy LaGrange (2-2, 2-0 USA South) won the opening toss and marched 68 yards in five plays, taking a 7-0 lead on Graham Craig’s four-yard touchdown pass.
The Bishops went three-and-out three consecutive times to start the game – twice dropping should-have-been first downs – while the Panthers showed no signs of slowing. Craig hit 11 straight passes to begin the game, and LaGrange scored three more times before the quarter was finished.
Less than 14 minutes into the game, LaGrange led, 27-0.
At that point, the Panthers had more first downs (11) than N.C. Wesleyan had total yards (10).
“I wasn’t happy with our defense. That’s not how we play,” Carlisle said. “We know we’re better than that. It was just us coming out and not doing our assignments.”
Craig threw his fourth touchdown pass of the half in the second quarter to make the score 34-0. He finished 18-for-22 in the half and finished with 406 yards by game’s end.
“We stuck to the script really well early on, and it worked,” Craig said. “Our receivers got open really well. We executed, and they made it really easy on me, that’s for sure.”
The Bishops outscored the Panthers in the second half as the N.C. Wesleyan offense awoke.
N.C. Wesleyan accounted for nearly 300 yards in the second half and scored four times, but the game had long since been decided.
“I guess we weren’t locked in, but we were OK once we started rolling,” running back Jacques Alston said. “If we play like we did in the second half, we’ll win every time.”
Alston ran for 192 yards and two scores while quarterback Robbie Lanier went 21-for-31 for 215 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Bishops were disappointed that their start didn’t give them a chance to win the football game.
N.C. Wesleyan is young at many starting positions, but Filkovski said he won’t use that as an excuse.
“We’re young, but we gotta learn that if you don’t want to play, teams will come in here and you’ll get trounced,” he said. “You have to play from the first snap to last snap. We let the breakdowns happen, but being young isn’t an excuse for somebody running right by you or dropping the football.”