Craig finds home, success in Mumme’s offense

Graham Craig is throwing for an average of 388.3 yards a game in his first year at LaGrange.

Graham Craig is throwing for an average of 388.3 yards a game in his first year at LaGrange.

Graham Craig has found a home at LaGrange.

Craig began his career at Murray State, where he redshirted in 2010 and played three games in 2011. He transferred to Valdosta State, and threw for 750 yards and 10 touchdown passes as the backup quarterback for the 2012 Division II national champion.

But he wanted an opportunity to start, so Craig, a junior from Birmingham, Ala., transferred to Division III LaGrange.

It’s been everything he expected, in part because of a pass-heavy offense installed by new offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, the son of longtime college coach Hal Mumme, inventor of the Air Raid offense.

Craig is not only starting, he’s flourishing.

He’s thrown for 1,553 yards and 15 touchdowns in four games to rank second nationally with 388.3 yards passing a game, fourth in scoring passes and fifth in passing yards.

The Panthers (2-2) are averaging 36.8 points a game and have won two in a row.

“I love the offense,” Craig said. “It’s fun. We throw it around a good bit and try to run as many plays as possible. We’re young on offense, but we’re getting better every week.”

Craig threw for 450 yards and five scores in LaGrange’s opener, and 353 and 344 the next two weeks, before going 27-of-41 for 406 yards and four touchdown passes in a 50-26 win over N.C. Wesleyan on Saturday.

Four different receivers already are in double figures in receptions, led by Griffin Roelle (Lassiter), who has 21 catches for 301 yards. Ervens Oge (Pierce County) has 19 catches, converted quarterback Ed Russ (Mill Creek) has 15 and Marsalis Jackson (Bradwell Institute) has 13 for 349 yards (26.8 yards a catch) and five touchdowns.

“The wide receivers around me are doing a fantastic job executing the offense,” Craig said. “Our guys are making plays. We’re stretching the field. It’s nice to have so many good receivers in our offense.”

Future is now?

Clark Atlanta coach Kevin Weston stuck with freshman quarterback Trenton Earl (Stockbridge) through a rough early stretch in which the Panthers lost their first three games.

Earl attempted only 20 passes, completing eight in that span, but Weston remained confident in the freshman.

Earl responded with his best game, going 12-of-16 for 157 yards in a 21-17 win over Morehouse last week.

He was 3-of-3 for 54 yards on Clark’s 10-play, 80-yard drive for the winning touchdown with 5:18 left in the game.

“We’re pretty pleased where he’s going,” Weston said. “We’ve tried not to overload him and really want to have it broken down for him. There’s nothing but growth in front of him. The best is ahead of him.”

Short of players

Injuries have decimated Shorter’s offensive backfield to the point that cornerbacks Wesley Clay (Franklin County) and Michael Peeples (Pebblebrook) have played both ways the past two weeks.

Injuries to slotbacks Roderick Jones, Devin Helvie (who both attended Liberty County) and Kirk Wilson, and along the offensive line have hurt the Hawks (0-5, 0-3 Gulf South Conference).

They have been shut out twice in the past three games and are off to their worst start since starting the program in 2006.

Around the state

Reinhardt (4-2) has won four consecutive games heading into its off week. … Former Fort Valley State P Marquette King (Rutland), who is with the Oakland Raiders, is averaging 48.8 yards a punt, fourth in the NFL. … Clark freshman RB Montavious Taylor (Carver-Atlanta) was the SIAC newcomer of the week after he rushed for 154 yards and scored twice in the win over Morehouse. He’s second in the conference with 341 yards rushing. … Morehouse LB Lance White (Whitewater) had 15 tackles in the loss to Clark. … West Georgia is 4-1 for the first time since 2001. … Valdosta State’s Austin Scott (Hardaway), the Gulf South Conference’s offensive player of the week, averaged 20.5 yards on six rushing attempts for 123 yards and two TDs in a win over Florida Tech. … Georgia Military College RB Akeem Judd, who has committed to Ole Miss, rushed for a season-high 122 yards last week.

Thursday

West Alabama 49, Valdosta State 30

Saturday

Valparaiso at Mercer, noon

Nassau Community College at Georgia Military, noon

Alderson-Broaddus at Point, noon

The Citadel at Georgia Southern, 1 p.m.

Centre at Berry, 1 p.m.

Maryville (Tenn.) at LaGrange, 1 p.m.

Fort Valley State at Kentucky State, 1:30 p.m.

Carson-Newman at Shorter, 1:30 p.m.

Albany State at Lane, 2 p.m.

Morehouse vs. Tuskegee, 2 p.m. (Columbus)

College of Faith at Clark Atlanta, 6 p.m.

Florida A&M at Savannah State, 6 p.m.

West Georgia at North Alabama, 7 p.m.

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