Football Goes to 4-0 After Grinding Out Win Over Mars Hill


SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba capitalized on five Mars Hill turnovers and topped the visiting Lions 37-13 in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday night at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field. The Catawba Indians, ranked 25th in NCAA II, improve to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the SAC. Mars Hill falls to 2-2 and 1-1.

Mars Hill started the game with a quick 30-yard pass to Javon Hargrave, but he was stripped of the ball by TJ Lowe-Foston and Jeremy Addison recovered. After a 21-yard return to the Lion 37, Catawba opened the scoring on a 32-yard field goal by Lee Brackman.

The teams traded touchdowns on their next possessions. Mars Hill took a brief lead on a six-yard pass from David Salmon to Craig Rucker that capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive. The Indians answered in four plays as Sam Mobley turned a short pass from Patrick O’Brien into a 62-yard touchdown.

The Lions looked poised to retake the lead after a big 48-yard pass from Salmon to Keshaun Taylor to the Catawba 17. On third down, Rucker weaved his way to the Indian goal line, but fumbled at the one and Cris Page recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

Catawba marched 80 yards in 10 plays to move on top 17-7 on a 10-yard pass from O’Brien to Keyon West. The Lions cut the margin to 17-13 on the final play of the first half as Salmon launched a final pass into the end zone from 46 yards out that Taylor brought down in the end zone.

Page ended the first Mars Hill possession of the second half with his third interception of the year. Catawba missed on a 47-yard field, but Mobley set up the game’s next score with a 47-yard punt return to the Lion 28. Kenyatta Greene scored on the next play with a quick burst through the line to give Catawba a 24-13 lead. Greene added a 29-yard score at the start of the fourth quarter to put the Indians on top 31-13.

Workhorse Eamon Smart capped the scoring with 6:44 left as he ran in from 13 yards out. Smart finished the day with a career-best 147 yards on a career-high 30 carries. Greene followed with 90 yards as the Indians amassed 251 yards on the ground with 192 coming in the final half.

O’Brien went 16-of-29 through the air for 214 yards for Catawba. Mobley caught five passes for 106 yards.

Malik Prescott ran for 107 yards for the Lions. Salmon completed 17-of-31 passes for 294 yards. He threw for a pair of scores and was intercepted twice. Taylor totaled 119 yards on five catches, while Rucker also caught five passes for a total of 99 yards.

Kyle Kitchens extended his Catawba sack record to 32 and a half with three more in the win over the Lions. Mike Miller had a sack and an interception. Jacan Williams posted 10 tackles for Mars Hill. Taylor forced a fumble for the Lions, wrestling the ball back from Cedrick Gervin after an interception.

Catawba travels to Carson-Newman next weekend for a 1 pm Saturday kickoff.

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