Defense Leads Football Past Mars Hill


MARS HILL, N.C. -- Catawba capitalized on five Mars Hill fumbles and also scored on special teams in a 33-22 win in South Atlantic Conference football action at Meares Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  The Catawba Indians improve to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in the SAC, while the Lions fall to 2-5 and 0-3.

Down 7-3, Catawba turned the game in the second quarter.  Case Woodard (Snellville, Ga./Arabia Mountain/Ga. Military) got it started when he blocked a Lion punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown and a 10-7 Catawba lead at the 13:12 mark of the quarter.  The Indians would come up with three more turnovers in the quarter to lead 24-7 at the break.

Reid Carlton (Lecanto, Fla./Trinity Catholic) cashed in a fumble recovery by Michael Peppers (Clemson, N.C./Daniel) at the Mars Hill 30, connecting on a third-down pass to Sam Mobley (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood/Louisburg) for a 19-yard score with 3:02 left in the half.

Woodard with come up with an interception on the next Mars Hill drive near midfield.  On the first snap after the turnover, Carlton went deep to Mobley for a 44-yard score and a 24-7 lead with 1:05 before the break.  The Lions drove deep into Catawba territory on its final drive of the half.  Jamel Harbison started the drive with a 24-yard run and a 28-yard pass from Austin Brown to Keshaun Taylor put the ball on the Catawba 16.  Woodard stopped the drive with his interception in the end zone.

Catawba took the second half kickoff and marched 75 yards in six plays to go up 30-7.  Carlton had a 42-yard pass to Mobley to the Mars Hill 30 and David Burgess (Morganton, N.C./Freedom) did the rest of the work on the ground.  The senior ran it in from 18-yards out for the score.

Mars Hill fought back with a pair of 12-yard touchdown passes by David Salmon.  The first went to Taylor with 1:43 left in the third quarter and the second to Harbison with 7:47 remaining in the game.  After a two-point pass from Salmon to Gilbert Johnson, the Lions were down just 30-22. 

Catawba came up with the big play after the ensuing kickoff.  Carlton hit Burgess along the sideline and he raced 59 yards to the Mars Hill 13.  Lee Brackman (Athens, Ga./Monsignor Donovan Catholic) booted a 25-yard field goal with 5:01 remaining to give the Indians a 33-22 edge.  The Indians stopped Mars Hill on downs then ran out the clock.

Carlton went 9-of-21 through the air for 205 yards and two scores.  Mobley was on the receiving end of four of the passes, totaling 118 yards and the two touchdown.  Mobley finished with 221 all-purpose yards.

Defensively, Woodard and Chris Carpenter (Fredericksburg, Va./Courtland) each had two interceptions and broke up three other passes.  Jamal Lackey (Mocksville, N.C./Davie Co.) recorded 13 tackles with three going for losses and a sack.

Harbison ran for 121 yards for the Lions.  Salmon completed 20-of-35 passes for 237 yards.  He threw three touchdowns and was intercepted twice.  Taylor made six receptions for 111 yards.  Jamel Brintley had a dozen tackles on defense.

Catawba travels to UNC Pembroke next Saturday for a 2 pm kickoff.

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