Football Stuns #10 Carson-Newman In Wild Finish


JEFFERSON CITY, TN -- Catawba went the near length of the field in the final three minutes then partial blocked a Carson-Newman field goal in the final seconds to claim a 25-22 upset win of the 10th-ranked Eagles in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Burke-Tarr Stadium.  The win improves the Catawba Indians to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the SAC, while Carson-Newman falls to 3-1 and 1-1.

The teams went back-and-forth over the final five minutes before the Indians prevailed for only the third time at Burke-Tarr.  The other two wins came in 1987 (2-0) and 2007 (55-49). 

Catawba trailed 19-16 late in the game when Catawba held the Eagles and got an 18-yard punt return from Terence Williams to the C-N 36.  Danny O'Brien (Kernersville, NC/E. Forsyth HS/Wisconsin) found Quan Rucker (Statesville, NC/W. Iredell HS/Wake Forest) to the seven on the first play then David Burgess (Morganton, NC/Freedom HS) took it in from there for a 22-19 edge with 4:21 to go.  The point-after was missed as Troy Mitchell (Hamptonville, NC/N. Iredell HS) was filling in for the injured Chad Hollandsworth (Kernersville, NC/E. Forsyth HS).

Carson-Newman came right back on the heels of an 81-yard kickoff return by TraShaun Ward to the Catawba 12.  De'Andre Thomas eventually scored from a yard out with 2:34 remaining to put the Eagles back in the lead.  Carson-Newman missed on its point after as well, leaving the score at 22-19.

Catawba got the ball back at its own 12 and faced a fourth down after three incomplete passes.  On fourth down, O'Brien found Bruce Smith (Winston-Salem, NC/N. Davidson HS) for 18 yards.  He then tossed a 13-yard strike to Nate Charest (Charlotte, NC/Butler HS) and found Tyler Hamilton (Charlotte, NC/Vance HS) down the sideline to the Eagle 12.  After a hold and a negative play pushed the ball back to the 34, O'Brien went over the top to Carlos Tarrats (Jacksonville, FL/Raines HS) to put Catawba up 25-22 with 56 seconds remaining.

The Eagles got a pass interference penalty and a 37-yard pass from Thomas to Luther Walker down to the Catawba 22 with 30 seconds left.  After a run to the 16, the Eagles threw and incomplete pass before setting up for a game-tying field goal.  LJ McCray (Charlotte, NC/Harding HS) got a hand on the 33-yard attempt from Curt Duncan and it sailed wide to give Catawba had the hard-earned win.

O'Brien went 35-of-52 through the air for 444 yards and two scores.  The 444 yards was the third most in school history with the top four games all coming against Carson-Newman.  Tarrats was his favorite target on the afternoon with nine catches for 97 yards and two scores.  Burgess had seven catches for 97 yards and Charest seven grabs for 87 yards.  Catawba was held to 20 yards on the ground.

The Indians defense stymied the Carson-Newman offense most of the day.  The Eagles ran for only 232 yards and added another 154 in the air, but completed only 9-of-24 passes.  Tyron Douglas led the rushers with 113 yards on 22 carries. 

Jason Taylor (Bahama, NC/Northern HS) had a huge game for Catawba, posting 16 tackles with a sack.  McCray made a dozen tackles and broke up three passes in addition to the block of the final kick. 

Carson-Newman looked to be heading to a blow out win in the opening minutes.  The Eagles took the opening kickoff 65 yards for a 7-0 lead.  When Catawba fumbled its kickoff return, the Eagles had it again at the Tribe 22.  The Catawba defense made what was one of the key plays of the game, denying Andy Hibbett an inch from the goal on fourth down. 

After holding C-N again, O'Brien threw his first touchdown to Tarrats to make the score 7-6.  On the next series, O'Brien's pass to Burgess for 50 yards put the ball on the Eagle three.  O'Brien went over from the one on third down to put Catawba up 13-7.  It was the first time Carson-Newman had trailed in a game this season.

The Eagles were held to field goals on three other trips inside the Catawba red zone, but did reclaim the 16-13 lead it held until the frantic final minutes.  Carson-Newman also missed a field goal to end the first half.

Catawba stays on the road next wee, traveling to Tusculum for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

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