Catawba’s ‘nasty’ defense blanks Austin Peay

By David Shaw, The Salisbury Post There may be a few lingering question marks surrounding the Catawba football team’s 2001 offense. But its defense is stocked with pound signs. Just ask Brian Baker, the Austin Peay quarterback who likes to go deep more than Jacques Cousteau. “They were physical, they were fast and they were nasty,” he said at Shuford Stadium Saturday, moments after Catawba dropped a 37-0 anvil on the guests from Tennessee. “Their defensive linemen and linebackers read everything. It’s difficult to find those 12-to-15 yard routes when you don’t have time. That’s no way to move down the field.” It’s not. Especially when the Indians are playing bullet-proof defense, making teeth-rattling hits and pitching their second complete-game shutout of the season. “Just because we lost Radell (Lockhart) and DeVonte (Peterson), people expect us to be average defensively,” said Catawba linebacker Shawn McBride. “We’re here to show that we’ve still got it.” Catawba (2-0) has had it for eight quarters now, limiting early-season opponents Livingstone and APSU (0-2) to 163 yards of total offense — combined. This much is certain: the Indians are a team that plays better without the ball than with it. “Those guys on defense and the defensive staff, they love to play the pressure game,” said head coach David Bennett. “They take a lot of pride in getting that shutout. I try to look at the overall picture. Most important was getting the win.” Catawba scored all the points it would need to prevail before the game was four minutes old. Led by quarterback Scott Sensing, the Indians took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards in eight plays — the biggest a 38-yard completion to Cedric Squirewell across the middle. Five snaps later freshman Rodney Wallace scored the first of two first-period touchdowns on a 1-yard run. “In the first half their defense gave us what we wanted them to,” Sensing explained after passing for 177 yards and two touchdowns. “I was able to recognize it and put us in plays that worked.” Meanwhile, nothing worked for the Governors. On their second play from scrimmage Baker was stripped of the ball by linebacker Todd McComb. Catawba’s Darris Morris recovered on the APSU 25-yard line. “That was big, coming so early in the game,” said D-Mo, displaying a game ball awarded after he made five tackles and had a hand in three of Catawba’s five sacks. “It kind of took the wind out of their sails and showed them that we meant business.” Wallace’s second TD — and third of the season — followed on a 12-yard run and gave Catawba a 14-0 lead just 5:37 into the game. The Indians owned a three-touchdown lead at the half after Squirewell got Vince Carter air and pulled down a 16-yard jump ball in the end zone early in the second quarter. “Cedric wasn’t even the intended receiver,” Sensing reported. “It was supposed to be (Derrick) Stokes, but he took an inside release on the cornerback and came into Cedric’s pattern. They were too close to each other. I was throwing to Stokes, but when it came down I didn’t care who had caught it.” Catawba extended its lead to 24-0 in the third period on a record-setting 20-yard field goal by Matt Gross. The senior kicker from Hendersonville became the school’s all-time scoring leader with 231 points, surpassing the mark held by Randy Brown. “I knew I was close, but I tried not to think about it all week,” he said. “Records are great, but I’m more worried about helping the team win. I’ll just pull my load.” Catawba pulled away later in the third period when Sensing fired a 75-yard TD pass to tight end Mark Sintich. The QB was quick to credit offensive linemen Daniel Lynch, Ryan Daniel, Bucky Yates, Demetrius Hopper, Daryl Holliday and Joe Nixon. “The offensive line gave me all the time in the world,” he said. “They put people on the ground and kept them there, giving me great visibility. I looked up and Mark was out there, all alone.” Gross cemented the win with a pair of fourth-quarter field goals. But if this game had a name and a face, it belonged to Morris, McBride and the rest of Catawba’s stifling defense — a unit that forced five turnovers, limited APSU to seven yards on the ground and 87 total. “They came in here thinking their quarterback was going to destroy our D,” said McBride, who recovered two fumbles. “We showed them something else. When everyone contributes, when everyone works together, there’s no limit to what this defense can accomplish.” NOTES: Corey Reece and Micah Merritt had interceptions for Catawba. The Indians did not turn the ball over. ... Gross, who booted four extra points, needs four more to overtake Brown as Catawba’s all-time PAT leader. ... The Indians kick off their South Atlantic Conference season next Saturday afternoon at Wingate. Contact David Shaw at .

Today's Events

No events scheduled until September 3


«June 2022»

Mouse over the red calendar dates to display events on those days. Click to open the full-size calendar.


Football Team Photo