Wallace runs to record as Football likely gains fourth straight playoff bid

   HICKORY, NC – Catawba College, ranked 18th in the AFCA Division II Poll, earned a 37-17 win over host Lenoir-Rhyne, in wet and muddy conditions, in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday night at Moretz Stadium.  Sophomore Rodney Wallace (Bamberg, SC) ran for 227 yards and broke the single-season rushing mark to lead the Indians, who virtually assured itself of a fourth straight playoff appearance when the bids are announced on Sunday.  Catawba improves to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the SAC, while Lenoir-Rhyne ends its season at 604 and 1-6.
The game looked as if were to be a defensive struggle in the sloppy turf as Catawba held a 2-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter thanks to a safety recorded when linebacker Marcus Hicks (Oxford, NC) sacked Bear quarterback Brett Meunier in the end zone at the 8:01 mark.  Catawba drove inside the Bear five-yard-line following the free kick, but Allan Rohrbaugh (Lexington, NC) failed to convert a field goal chance.

    The Bears would take the lead with 11:34 remaining in the second quarter as Meunier caped a 17-play, 80-yard dirve with a five-yard toss to Aaron Caldwell.  The Indians wasted little time regaining the advantage as Corey Ready (Aiken, SC) returned the ensuing kickoff to the Bear 36.  Luke Samples (Elkin, NC) would go up top to O.J. Lennon (Greensboro, NC) on the next play to put the Tribe up 8-7 as a two-point conversion failed.

Lenoir-Rhyne would fumble at its own 40 on its next drive and Wallace began to take over.  The sophomore ran twice for 27 yards, going the final 11 yards for a score at the 8:08 mark.  The Bears would get a 73 yard kickoff return from Chris Winford to set up a 30-yard field goal by John Raptis to trim the deficit to 15-10.  After an out-of-bounds kickoff, Samples hooked up with Cedric Squirewell (Ridgeway, SC) for a 47-yard play and Wallace scored from 10-yards out for a 21-10 edge with 4:42 to play in the half.  

Wallace would put the Tribe up 28-10 at the break as he broke a 72-yard run for a score with just 3:20 before the break.  It was the longest run in his career and helped him break the Catawba record for rushing yards in half with 176.  He had 123 of those yards in the second quarter.  

The Bears were stopped on fourth down at the Tribe 31 to start the second half and Wallace needed just one carry to eclipse the Catawba single-season rushing record with a 27-yard run.  He would finish with 1,032 yards on the season, breaking the old mark of 1,001 yards set by Greg Singleton in 1969.  He broke Todd Scott’s single half record of 159 which was set against Lenoir-Rhyne in 1990.  Wallace now stands second all-time on the Catawba rushing charts with 2,195 yards.

After Rohrbaugh put Catawba on top 31-10 with a 31-yard field goal with 6:19 left in the third quarter, Lenoir-Rhyne found life as Ronnie Melker scored from a yard out to get within 31-17 with 47 seconds left in the quarter.  Catawba would fumble at its own 34 on its next possession, but Todd McComb (Thomasville, NC) intercepted Meunier to end the threat.  The Tribe defense would hold on downs at the Catawba 36 on the Bears’ next drive and T.J. Lawson (Lexington, NC) capped the scoring with a one-yard plunge with two minutes to play.

The Tribe averaged over eight yards a play in the win, totaling 446 yards on 55 snaps.  Lenoir-Rhyne was held to 252 yards in 79 plays.  Catawba led the Tribe ground attack with 227 of the 295 yards, while Samples completed 8-of-15 passes for 151 yards.  He broke the season total offense mark of Mitch Ellis as the sophomore finished with 2,317 yards.  He passed for 2,136 yards on the year, just 45 yards shy of Ellis’ school mark.  Defensively, McComb added a career-high 16 tackles to his interception.  

Jameil Surratt ran for 116 yards to lead Lenoir-Rhyne, who totaled 149 on the ground.  Meuner was 12-of-27 for 103 yards and was intercepted twice.  The Bears also fumbles twice, as did Catawba.  The win was the eighth straight for Catawba over Lenoir-Rhyne in a series that dates back to 1907.  It matches the longest winning streak in the series as LR defeated Catawba eight times from 1955-62.  


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