Defense Stingy in Red Zone as Football Tops Mars Hill 29-10


SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba pulled away from visiting Mars Hill with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown to post a 29-10 win in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field.  With the win, the Catawba Indians improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SAC and also recorded the 500th win in program history.  The Lions fall to 2-5 and 1-2.

Quarterback Mike Sheehan (Wilmington, N.C./Laney HS) ran for 113 yards and a score, while throwing for another 148 yards and a touchdown.  He completed 10-of-23 passes without a turnover.  David Burgess (Morganton, N.C./Freedom HS) added 73 yards, including a 32-yard TD run, and pushed his career total over 1,000 yards becoming the 37th Catawba player to reach that milestone.

Linebacker Kyle Kitchens (Decatur, Ga./Decatur HS) made one of the game’s biggest plays midway through the second quarter.  With the Indians up 7-3 and Mars Hill driving to the Catawba nine, Kitchens intercepted a pass at the 10 and raced 90 yards to put the hosts up 14-3.

Catawba held that lead until midway in the third quarter when Lion receiver Keshaun Taylor took a reverse 63 yards to cut the Mars Hill deficit to 14-10.  Midway through the fourth quarter, Catawba retook a two score edge when Sheehan completed an 18-yard scoring pass to Gary Williams (Southport, N.C./S. Brunswick HS).  Mars Hill blocked the ensuing point-after try, but Andy Hunt (Mt. Pleasant, N.C./Mt. Pleasant HS) picked it up and ran it in for a two-point conversion putting Catawba up 22-10.

 The Indians put the game out of reach on its next drive after the defense stopped Mars Hill on a fourth down at the Catawba 26.  Sheehan had a 44-yard run to the Lion 32 and Burgess took it the final 32 yards to put Catawba up 29-10 with 5:08 remaining.

Sheehan keyed a quick opening score for Catawba.  The Indians went 89 yards in four plays with Sheehan hitting on pass plays of 17 yards to Keyon West (North Augusta, S.C./N. Augusta HS) and 55 yards to Carlos Tarrats (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines HS).  Sheehan would score from 17 yards out to give Catawba an early 7-0 lead.

Mars Hill answered with a 34-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.  Early in the second quarter, the Lions attempted a 22-yard field goal, but it was blocked by Jamal Lackey (Mocksville, N.C./Davie Co. HS).  The next Lion drive ended with Kitchens’ interception that turned the game.

Lackey had 10 tackles for Catawba with three going for losses, including a sack.  Kitchens also had a sack and four quarterback hurries.  Case Woodard (Snellville, Ga./Arabia Mountain HS/Ga. Military) stopped another deep Lion drive with an interception at the Catawba seven with just 1:12 left in the half.  Mark McDaniel (China Grove, N.C./S. Rowan HS) broke up six passes.

Mars Hill got 115 yards from Shaikel Davis.  Jamel Harbison added 72 yards on the ground.  Matt Laymen completed 12-of-36 passes for 165 yards, but was intercepted twice.  The Lions scored just once on four trips inside the Catawba red zone.

Catawba will host UNC Pembroke next weekend in non-conference action.  Kickoff is set for 1:30 pm.

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