Gross boots Football into National Semifinals

   VALDOSTA, GA -- Catawba College rallied from a 26-14 second half deficit and defeated top-ranked Valdosta State 37-34 in overtime on senior Matt Gross' 35-yard field goal on Saturday afternoon at Bazemore- Hyder Stadium.  The win sends the seventh-ranked Indians into the NCAA II semifinals next week against Grand Valley State.  Catawba moves to 11-1 on the season, while VSU ends its year at 12-1.     The Tribe trailed 26-14 late in the third quarter, and looked to be going down by 15 points as Valdosta set up for a 22-yard field goal, but it was blocked by Darris Morris (Batesburg, SC).  A series later, Catawba drove 49 yards to close to within 26-21 on a four-year pass from Luke Samples (Elkin, NC) to Mark Sintich (Lawrenceville, GA) with 28 seconds left in the quarter.  VSU fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Samples was intercepted in the end zone to begin the fourth quarter.

    The Blazers would drive into field goal range, but Morris again blocked the try and Eddie Wall (Albemarle, NC) returned it near midfield.  Three plays later, freshman Rodney Wallace (Bamberg, SC) took a draw 46 yards to give Catawba a 27-26 edge with 6:15 remaining.  Valdosta came right back and Dusty Bonner found Michael Greer from 13 yards out with 3:40 to go to put VSU back on top.  A two-point conversion pass to Reggie Mosley gave the Blazers a 34-27 edge.  

    A personal foul on Catawba's kickoff return gave the Indians the ball at midfield and a strike from Samples to Nick Means (Thomasville, NC) moved the ball to the VSU 25-yard line.  The Tribe converted three times on third down from there.  A 12-yard pass to O.J. Lennon on third-and-ten got the Indians to the two, then Tony Hawkins (Fayetteville, NC) scored from four yards out on third down with eight seconds left and Gross' kick sent the game to overtime.

    Catawba won the overtime coin toss and went on defense.  After a short gain, Ryan Norman (Norcross, GA) nearly intercepted Bonner on second down.  Maurice Simpkins (Leesville, SC) and Steven Williams (Wilson, NC) would sack Bonner on third down to take the Blazers out of field goal range and a fourth down pass fell incomplete.  Catawba called three running plays and relied on the foot of Gross, who was true from 35-yards out to end the game.

    Catawba had the momentum early despite a blocked punt by VSU that gave the hosts a 2-0 lead.  After a short Blazer punt, Catawba took the lead on an eight-yard run by Wallace.  A Nick Hopper (Shelby, NC) interception inside the VSU five-yard line led to a 12-yard pass from Samples to Cedric Squirewell (Ridgeway, SC) and a 14-2 edge with 4:17 left in the opening quarter.  A second blocked punt by Valdosta, kick started the Blazers, who would grab the lead 16-14 with 8:07 until half.

    The Tribe twice intercepted Bonner late in the half in VSU territory, but failed to cash in for points.  Catawba fumbled away a chance to take the halftime lead inside the five-yard line.  VSU would lead 19-14 at the half, holding Catawba to just 75 total yards.

    The Tribe would have only 267 yards on the day, led by Wallace, who had 94 yards rushing to move his season total to 1,095 yards.  Samples was 13-of-29 for 141 yards on two scores.  Means had six catches for 92 yards.  Defensively, Todd McComb (Thomasville, NC) recorded 11 tackles, with two for losses.  Bonner was 33-of-51 for 326 yards and four touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.  Aaron Jenkins rushed for 144 yards on 22 carries, while he added nine receptions for 54 yards.  Greer had 106 yards on seven catches.    .
                               Box Score (Final)
     Catawba Indians vs Valdosta St. Blazers (11-24-01 at Valdosta, GA)

  Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4 OT   Score
  -----------------    -- -- -- -- --   -----
  Catawba Indians (11-1) ........ 14  0  7 13  3  - 37
  Valdosta St. Blazers (12-1) ...  2 17  7  8  0  - 34

  Scoring Summary:
  1st quarter
09:54 VSU - Safety, punt blocked out of end zone
05:17 CAT - Rodney Wallace 8 run (Matt Gross kick)
04:17 CAT - Cedric Squirewell 12 pass from Luke Samples (Gross kick)
  2nd quarter
12:20 VSU - Reggie Mosley 15 pass from Dusty Bonner (Reid Bethea kick)
08:07 VSU - Abram Booty 32 pass from Bonner (Bethea kick)
00:00 VSU - Bethea 36 FG
  3rd quarter
10:48 VSU - C.J. Lofton 14 pass from Bonner (Bethea kick)
00:28 CAT - Mark Sintich 4 pass from Samples (Gross kick)
  4th quarter
06:15 CAT - Wallace 46 run (pass failed)
03:40 VSU - Michael Greer 13 pass from Bonner (Mosley pass from Bonner)
00:08 CAT - Tony Hawkins 4 run (Gross kick)
  First Overtime
15:00 CAT - Gross 35 FG

 ...................................  CAT      VSU
  FIRST DOWNS...................       12       24
  RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   40-126   33-161
  PASSING YDS (NET).............      141      326
  Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  29-13-1  51-33-3
  TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   69-267   84-487
  Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
  Punt Returns-Yards............      1-2     3-30
  Kickoff Returns-Yards.........    4-115    7-125
  Interception Returns-Yards....     3-21      1-0
  Punts (Number-Avg)............   8-30.8   4-34.0
  Fumbles-Lost..................      2-1      2-2
  Penalties-Yards...............     3-15     8-56
  Possession Time...............    27:02    32:58
  Sacks By: Number-Yards........     2-24      1-4

  RUSHING: Catawba - Rodney Wallace 23-94; Luke Samples 9-23; Tony Hawkins 3-11; Marcus Bland 4-4; Team 1-minus 6. Valdosta St. - Aaron Jenkins 22-144; Tyran Robinson 4-24; Dusty Bonner 7-minus 7.

  PASSING: Catawba - Luke Samples 13-29-1-141. Valdosta St. - Dusty Bonner 33-51-3-326.

  RECEIVING: Catawba - Nick Means 6-92; Cedric Squirewell 4-32; O.J. Lennon 2-13; Mark Sintich 1-4. Valdosta St. - Aaron Jenkins 9-54; Michael Greer 7-106; C.J. Lofton 7-49; Carlos Johnson 6-52; Reggie Mosley 3-33; Abram Booty 1-32.

  INTERCEPTIONS: Catawba - Nick Hopper 1-12; Jemonte Battle 1-0; Jamel Jackson 1-9.  Valdosta St. - Derek Braxton 1-0.

  FUMBLES: Catawba - Rodney Wallace 1-0; Marcus Bland 1-1. Valdosta St. - Demetrick Moore 1-1; Aaron Jenkins 1-1.

  SACKS (UA-A): Catawba - Maurice Simpkins 0-1; Richard Scott 0-1; Darris Morris 0-1; Steven Williams 0-1. Valdosta St. - Roshod Hampton 0-1; Todd Ragle 0-1.

  TACKLES (UA-A): Catawba - Todd McComb 4-7; Shawn Sanders 3-4; Nick Hopper 5-1; Corey Reese 5-1; Shawn McBride 4-2; Maurice Simpkins 1-5; Jemonte Battle 3-2; Jamel Jackson 3-2; Richard Scott 1-4; Darris Morris 2-2; Maurice Price 2-2; Ryan Norman 3-0; David Huey 2-1; Khanis Hubbard 2-1; Piotr Kalinowski 1-2; Eddie Wall 1-2; Steven Williams 0-3; Kenny White 1-1; David Hamilton 1-1; Grant Cain 1-0; James McDowell 0-1; Reggie Tucker 0-1; Dustin Cox 0-1.
Valdosta St. - Ced Dickerson 4-4; Mike Fowler 2-6; Fatari Lyons 2-5; Derek Braxton 5-1; Todd Ragle 2-4; Wesley Brown 2-3; Tabious Carter 2-3; Reggie Rhodes 1-4; Dewayne Smith 2-1; Reggie Cockerm 1-1; Marlin Adams 1-1; Deon McGhee 0-2; Willie Caldwell 0-2; Marquis Turner 1-0; B. Harrington 1-0; Timi A-Williams 1-0; Aaron Jenkins 1-0; Steve Skeen 1-0; Dennis Fryzel 1-0; Abram Booty 1-0; Michael Greer 1-0; Shaunta Dismuke 0-1; Milon Brezial 0-1; Keith Gosse 0-1; Demetrick Moore 0-1; Lee Tarpley 0-1; Reggie Mosley 0-1; Roshod Hampton 0-1.

  Stadium: Bazemore-Hyder        Attendance: 4,500
  Kickoff time: 1 pm      End of Game:           Total elapsed time:
  Officials: Referee: William Greene; Umpire: Mickie Collins;
  Linesman: Kirby McDaniel; Line judge: Rod Holloway; Field judge: Greg Lefils;
  Side judge: Greg Edwards; Scorer: Kelly Wells;
  Temperature: 85-deg    Wind: SW at 5   Weather: Brilliant Sunshine

  Division II National Playoffs Quarterfinal Game


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