Football Falls Short In Second-Half Rally Bid at Tusculum


GREENEVILLE, TN -- Tusculum withstood a furious rally and held off seventh-ranked Catawba to take a 31-28 win in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.  The Pioneers move atop the league standings, improving to 5-3 overall and 3-0 in the SAC.  The Catawba Indians fall to 7-1 and 3-1.

 Tusculum went on top 24-0 early in the second half after pinning the Tribe on the one-yard line and converting a short punt into a score on a 21-yard pass from Corey Russell to Brandon Dixon.  Brad Roach (Williamston, NC/Williamston HS) drove Catawba into Pioneer territory, but threw the first of three interceptions to end the drive.

 Later in the third quarter, Roach led Catawba to a pair of scoring drives.  He threw touchdown passes to Kory Fisher (New Bern, NC/New Bern HS) and Antwan Strong (Charlotte, NC/W. Charlotte HS) with a two-point conversion strikes Brent Johnson (Hickory, NC/Hickory HS) and George Bell (Fayetteville, NC/Britt HS) to cut the deficit to 24-16.

 Bell would get Catawba to within 24-22 on a short run with 9:18 remaining, but Roach’s two-point pass was knocked down.  Catawba got the ball back, but a Pioneer interception set up a 24-yard pass from Russell to Jarmaichael Caldwell to give Tusculum a 31-22 edge.

 Catawba struck back after a long kickoff return by Travis Landrum (Inman, SC/.Chapman HS).  Roach completed four straight passes for 41 yards and Bell carried over from four-yards out to cut the Pioneer lead to 31-28 with 5:11 to play.  Catawba got the ball back one more time, but Roach was intercepted at the Tusculum 35 and the Pioneers ran out the clock.

 Tusculum missed a field goal on its opening drive of the game, but came back with a touchdown and a field goal for a 10-0 lead after a quarter.  Catawba would face its own kicking problems in the second quarter, having one field goal blocked and misfiring on another after falling down 17-0.

 Russell completed 25-of-39 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 69 yards on 23 carries.  Roach was 23-of-43 for 308 yards and a pair of scores.  Catawba committed three turnovers on the afternoon, while the Pioneers did not have a miscue.

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