UCA coach was impressed with Catawba. The Catawba College football notebook ...

By Ronnie Gallagher, The Salisbury Post

There was a little difference of opinion between coaches about Catawba’s tackling after Saturday’s pulsating 35-34 Division IIplayoff win.

Catawba’s David Bennett thought his team could’ve done better.

Central Arkansas’ Clint Conque said it couldn’t have been much better.“We had 22 missed tackles,” said Bennett during Tuesday’s press conference at Western Steer.

Five hundred miles away in Conway, Ark., Central coach Clint Conque was praising the Indians.

“It’s been my experience over the years that the really good football teams are outstanding tacklers, especially in the secondary and linebackers,” he told the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway. “They hit you and you go down. That’s what these people (Catawba) did. It was like, catch, hit and tackle. There were very few yards made after contact or catch.”

Bennett did point out that 18 of those missed tackles came in the first half when the Bears were ringing up 31 points.

“In the second half, we disguised what we did and weren’t jumping in there so quick,” he praised. “We got used to the speed of the game.”

And Central scored a measly three points after halftime because of it.


COMPLIMENT: Conque is now a fan of Catawba football.

“Catawba is well-respected around the country and now I see why,” said Conque, whose Bears finished 9-3. “They have established what we hope to establish and that’s winning and the expectations of winning.”


TASTE TEST: How comfortable were the Central Arkansas Bears once they arrived at Shuford Stadium for Saturday’s first-round, Division II playoff football game?

Their first priority was tasting this stuff called, “Cheerwine,” which they said was not available in their state.

Custodian Joe Endreas was happy to oblige, taking them over to the concession stand for a few swigs.


DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: James McDowell and Jamel Jackson shared the team’s defensive award against Central Arkansas.

Cornerback Jackson was in on six tackles and broke up a pass. McDowell, a defensive lineman, had an interception that he took back 17 yards, setting up the first Catawba score.

“McDowell would’ve scored if he hadn’t started high-stepping on the 30,” chuckled Bennett of his 300-pounder.

Bennett noted that McDowell graded higher than any lineman all season.


A FUMBLE RUMBLE: McDowell wasn’t the only Indian defensive lineman to come through with a big play. Early in the second half, David Huey recovered a fumble and rumbled his 300-pound body 14 yards, setting up Catawba’s comeback from a 31-20 halftime deficit.

“Huey broke a couple of tackles,” Bennett said after watching the film. “We told him his pants were halfway down his rear end so we hope no children or women saw that.”


GETTING OFFENSIVE: Freshman tailback Rodney Wallace won the offensive player of the week award. The diaper dandy led all runners with 185 yards on 26 carries. He now has 1,001 yards.

The all-time single-season rushing leader is Greg Singleton with 1,001.

But Singleton’s record will stand since playoff totals don’t count in the record book.

Wallace is just 34 yards shy of the all-time season mark (counting playoffs) of Kevin McKenzie, who set the standard last season.


HE’S SPECIAL: Maurice Price of Charlotte was special teams player of the week after he recorded three tackles.


DON’T DOUBT ME: Bennett was crowing over his call late in the game when he threw on a third-and-20.

Arnold Gaither made the leaping catch for the first down and Catawba ran out the clock.

Bennett caught wind that quarterbacks coach Kevin Brown and tight end coach Joe Todd were doubting him.

“They were like, ‘Don’t throw the ball, Coach Bennett! What’s he doing? Is he stupid.’ ” Bennett laughed.

“In the staff meeting, I asked them, ‘You were both what? It’s a word that starts with a W.’ ”

The word, of course, is “wrong.”

“Itold them, ‘I accept your apology. Now, let’s move on,’ ” Bennett grinned.


MEANS WATCH: Receiver Nick Means now has 118 career catches, which is third behind Jeff Park (156) and Ike Hill (151). His 1,855 yards is fourth, 17 shy of Parks.


CAROLINA TIES: Bill Lide, the Central Arkansas athletic director, arrived at Catawba on Thursday, touring the stadium and new field house. He has N.C.-S.C. ties. He is from Darlington, went to school (and played football) at J.C. Smith and was formerly the AD at N.C. Central. Lide was visiting his sister in Charlotte on Thursday night and was hoping to run into old buddy Cliff Huff, the AD at Livingstone.


MORE TIES: Catawba’s team doctor, Chip Comadoll, had two teams to pull for in the playoffs.

His alma mater, Winona State (Minn.), where he played linebacker, also made it. Alas, the alma mater fell to North Dakota 42-28.


AROUND THE NATION: This week’s games among the Division II’s Great Eight include Saginaw Valley State at Grand Valley State in the Northeast Region.

In the Midwest, Pittsburg State travels to North Dakota.

In the West, Tarleton State goes to UC Davis. Both of those teams were the only ones to win on the road last week.


NO ROOMS: The Bears stayed at The Hampton Inn in Concord due to the lack of rooms in Salisbury. There was a Johovah Witness convention going on.


WE’ll DRIVE: There is a Division IIrule that says it will fly teams to playoff games if the trip is over 500 miles.

Bennett said it is 500 miles driving but 460 in air miles and that’s what Division II goes by. So Bennett’s cranking up the bus.

Which is OK.

“I had a couple of players ask me, ‘We ain’t flying are we? I ain’t never been on plane.’ So we’d rather drive a bus.”


TURKEY PLANS: Catawba’s team is going to Western Steer today for a big Thanksgiving team dinner and will leave for Valdosta, Ga. on Thursday. Another stop is planned that day in the Lowcountry of South Carolina for another Thanksgiving meal.


INJURY REPORT: Linebackers Shawn McBride and Darris Morris are nursing shoulder injuries, while receiver O.J. Lennon has a bad toe. All are expected to play.

Defensive back Marcus Hicks is doubtful with high ankle sprain.


NOTES: Bennett is 62-16 (72 percent) in his seven years. ... If Catawba can score against Valdosta State, it will tie the school record for most consecutive games with at least a point (89). The last time Catawba was shut out was in the season opener in 1994 against East Tennessee State. ... The Indians have been ranked for 26 straight weeks in the national poll. ... Conque is seeking a medical redshirt year for quarterback Brian Stallworth.

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