McCray Sets NCAA II Record in Football's Loss to Tusculum


SALISBURY, NC -- Tusculum’s Bo Cordell (Cincinnati, OH) threw for 510 yards and the Pioneers out-scored host Catawba 54-44 in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field.  With the win, Tusculum improves to 6-4 overall and 2-4 in the SAC.  The Catawba Indians fall to 6-3 and 4-2.

It was a record-breaking day for Cordell, who became the league’s all-time single-season passing leader with 4,258 yards.  He also tops the total offense mark with 4,268 yards.  Deonte Gist (Wellford, SC) set a new Pioneer record with 279 all-purpose yards. 

Catawba’s LJ McCray (Charlotte, NC/Harding HS) etched his name in not only the Indian record book, but also the national one as he accumulated 304 kickoff return yards.  The sophomore ran back a school-record two for touchdowns, covering 99 and 94 yards.  The previous NCAA II mark for kickoff return yards in a game was 276 which was last done in 1991. 

McCray helped Catawba to an early 14-3 lead with his 99-yard kickoff return at the 10:42 mark of the opening quarter.  A 46-yard field goal from Gareth Rowlands (Benllech, WALES) and two scoring runs from Cordell gave the Pioneers a 20-14 lead.  After the Indians cut the margin to 20-17, Gist answered, scoring on a 79-yard kickoff return of his own.

Tusculum went up 34-17 late in the half as Cordell threw a 52-yard pass to Rashaad Carter (Stone Mountain, GA) with 1:34 before the break.  McCray got Catawba back in the game with his second return for a score of the half, covering 94 yards.  It marked the seventh time in NCAA II history that a player returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Catawba twice cut the Pioneer lead to a single scoring in the third quarter, but each time Cordell and Gist answered.  The sophomore tossed a 20-yarder to Gist at the 5:53 mark of the third quarter then the duo hooked up from 33 yards out with 12:35 remaining to put Tusculum up 51-37.

After Catawba failed on a field goal, the Pioneers put the game away with a 12-play drive that culminated in a 29-yard kick from Rowlands and a 54-37 lead with 4:48 left.  Daniel Griffith (Salisbury, NC/N. Rowan HS) led Catawba to a score, capped on a four-yard pass to Eric Morman (Rockingham, NC/Richmond Sr. HS), with 3:15 remaining, but the Pioneers recovered the ensuing on-side kick and ran out the clock.

Cordell completed 32-of-43 passes for three scores and ran for two others.  Gist caught nine balls for 160 yards, while Calvin Britt (Augusta, GA) had 102 receiving yards on three catches.  The Pioneers ran for 128 yards with Fred Jones (Appling, GA) leading the way with 65.

Patrick Dennis (Durham, NC/Cedar Ridge HS) went 18-of-30 through the air for Catawba for 194 yards.  Griffith completed five-of-six passes for 70 yards.  Josh Wright (Raeford, NC/Hoke Co. HS/W. Carolina) led Catawba on the ground with 50 of the Tribe’s 155 yards rushing.


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