November 14, 2015
Football Claims SAC Title With 28-14 Win Over LR
SALISBURY, N.C. -- Quarterback Mike Sheehan (Wilmington, N.C./Laney) ran for three touchdowns, including the game-clincher with 4:55 remaining, as Catawba claimed the 2015 South Atlantic Conference Football Championship with a 28-14 win over visiting Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field. The Catawba Indians earn a spot in the NCAA II playoffs which begin next weekend.
Catawba improves to 9-2 overall and finishes 6-1 in the SAC, claiming its first league title since 2007 and its first outright championship since 2001. The Bears end their season at 5-5 and 3-4.
Sheehan rushed for 106 yards on 21 carries with 43 of those yards coming on the final score as he put the Indians on top 28-14. Cary Littlejohn (Columbus, N.C./Polk Co.) went over 100 yards for the third straight game with 102 yards on 18 attempts. It marked the third time in the last four weeks that Catawba had two players run for over 100 yards.
Lenoir-Rhyne fumbled on its first possession and Catawba quickly capitalized. After a 24-yard pass from Sheehan to Carlos Tarrats (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) to the Bear six, the junior finished the drive two plays later with a one-yard run and a 7-0 lead.
The Bears answered with a 77-yard drive that tied the score on a 14-yard run from James Phillips. Lenoir-Rhyne took the lead in the second quarter when Evin Sims capped an 11-play, 86-yard drive with a one-yard run with 5:02 to go before the half..
Catawba turned the game around in the final minutes of the half. Sheehan drove the Indians 93 yards in seven plays to pull the Indians even. He hit on a 19-yard pass to Tarrats to get the drive going and connected with Gary Williams (Southport, N.C./S. Brunswick) for 36 yards to the LR nine. Two Sheehan runs later the game was tied at 14 with 2:21 to go before the break.
Case Woodard (Snellville, Ga./Arabia Mountain/Georgia Military) followed with one of the game's big plays, intercepting Sims and returning it 34 yards to put Catawba up 21-14 with 1:33 left in the half.
The Indians drove deep into Lenoir-Rhyne territory to start the second half, but Marcus Kincaid ended the threat by intercepting Sheehan at the Bear eight. Neither offense found much success after that until LR put together a drive midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears marched to the Indian 16 before losing its third fumble of the game.
Catawba put the game away on the ensuing possession with Sheehan's big run. The Indians stopped Lenoir-Rhyne on downs on its next drive then Woodard snagged his second interception of the game in the final minute.
Jeremy Addison (Irmo, S.C./Dutch Fork) posted 10 tackles for the Catawba defense. Trey Evans (Barnesville, Ga./Lamar Co.) had nine tackles and recovered all three of the fumbles for the Indians. Chris Shaffer notched 16 tackles for Lenoir-Rhyne.
Kristaan Ivory ran for 135 yards to lead Lenoir-Rhyne on offense. Sims ran for 65 yards and completed 2-of-8 passes for 50 yards. Sheehan went 11-of-16 through the air for 128 yards with six of the completions going to Tarrats for 80 yards.
Catawba will likely host a first-round playoff game next weekend as it entered the week as the No. 3 seed in the region. The NCAA will announce the playoff pairings late on Sunday afternoon.
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