Football Rallies Past Mars Hill 38-31 With Two Late Scores


SALISBURY, NC -- Catawba scored a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes to rally for a 38-31 win over visiting Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field.  The Catawba Indians improve to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in the SAC, while the Lions fall to 2-7 and 0-5.

Catawba had squandered good field position most of the second half and found themselves at their own 10 with just over eight minutes remaining and down 31-24.  Three passes from Danny O’Brien (Kernersville, NC/E. Forsyth HS/Wisconsin) moved the Indians out to the 31 then Lorenzo Pooler (Fayetteville, NC/Byrd HS) broke off a 58-yard run to the Mars Hill 11.  Two plays later O’Brien connected with Carlos Tarrats (Jacksonville, NC/Raines HS) for a 10-yard score to pull Catawba even at 31-all with 5:56 left.

On the ensuing kickoff, Tory Mitchell’s (Hamptonville, NC/N. Iredell HS) pooch kick landed at the Mars Hill 30 and spun into the arms of Indian Gary Williams (Southport, NC/S. Brunswick HS) to give the ball right back to Catawba.  Pooler ran for 13 yards then Cary Littlejohn (Columbus, NC/Polk Co. HS) had a catch and three runs to help get the ball to the Lion four. 

On third down, O’Brien ran right and dove into the end for the go-ahead score with 2:42 remaining.  Mars Hill threw four incomplete passes on its next possession and Catawba was able to run out the clock. 

After a free-scoring first half, the second half was a defensive battle.  Mars Hill snapped a 24-24 tie with the only points of the third-quarter which came on a three-yard pass from Trent Miller (Buffalo, NY) to Jamel Hall (Greeneville, TN).  That came at the 4:35 mark of the quarter.

The teams went back-and-forth in the first half.  Catawba went on top on a 38-yard pass from O’Brien to Bruce Smith (Winston-Salem, NC/N. Davidson HS) midway through the first quarter.  Mars Hill came right back on a one-yard run from Miller.  The Indians retook the lead on the first play of the second quarter as O’Brien threw a five-yard pass to Nate Charest (Charlotte, NC/Butler HS).

An interception by the Lions’ David Campbell (Charleston, SC) at the Mars Hill 43 set up the next score.  Shaikel Davis (East Flat Rock, NC) ran 36 yards to the Catawba 18 and Miller threw a scoring strike to Dimitri Holmes (Athens, GA) on the next play to make it 14-14.

Littlejohn accounted for 37 yards with four carries on Catawba’s next scoring drive which covered 59 yards.  The freshman got the score when he got in from two-yards out.  Miller set up a Mars Hill field goal with a 52-yard pass to Dominique Taylor (Columbia, SC) to the Indian 18.  The Catawba defense limited the Lions to the three points which came on a 44-yard field goal from Victor Yurco (Asheville, NC).

Chad Hollandsworth (Kernersville, NC/E. Forsyth HS) got those points back for Catawba with a 24-yard field goal with just 1:35 left in the half, but Mars Hill was able to get the tying touchdown before the break.  Miller completed three passes to the Catawba 29 and after a pass interference penalty had capped the drive with a 10-yard pass to Cameron Shuford (Newton, NC).

Catawba totaled nearly 500 yards in offense, outgaining the Lions 494 to 345.  O’Brien threw for three scores, completing 23-of-38 passes for 311 yards.  Pooler rushed for 88 yards on 10 attempts, while Littlejohn added another 86 yards on 17 carries.  Smith led the receivers with four catches for 68 yards.

Miller also threw for three touchdowns in the loss for Mars Hill.  He completed 12-of-28 passes for 278 yards.  Davis was held shy of his 137-yard rushing average with 91 yards on 24 carries.  Shuford made four catches for 47 yards, while Holmes totaled 143 yards on three grabs.

Mars Hill sacked O’Brien four times with a pair coming from Johnny Maxey (Columbia, SC).  Jamal Lackey (Mocksville, NC/Davie Co. HS) had a sack for Catawba, while Jason Taylor (Bahama, NC/Northern HS) had eight tackles and was in on two for losses.

Catawba steps out of conference play next week as the Indians travel to North Greenville for a 1 p.m. kickoff.


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