Football Recovers to Beat North Greenville in Overtime


SALISBURY, N.C. -- Eamon Smart’s 17-yard scoring run lifted host Catawba to a 26-20 overtime win over North Greenville in football action on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field. The Catawba Indians improve to 5-1 while the Crusaders fall to 2-4.

Catawba took its overtime possession after North Greenville fumbled a snap on a field goal try in heavy rains to end its possession. The Indians had forced the field goal attempt with a third-and-two stop on the six. Smart ran for eight yards on the opening play then scored on the next play to give Catawba the win.

The Indians jumped out to 20-0 lead late in the first half following a scoreless first quarter. Keyon West started the scoring on the first play of the second quarter with a 17-yard catch from Patrick O’Brien. O’Brien went 16-of-28 through the air in rainy conditions for 175 yards. He threw for a score and ran for a score.

O’Brien’s one-yard run capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with 4:46 to go before the half. The drive came after a missed 29-yard field goal by North Greenville. Catawba’s point-after was blocked leaving the Indians up 13-0. After a three-and-out by the Indians defense, Sam Mobley returned a punt 25 yards, but fumbled. The fumble bounced into the hands of Trey Murray, who carried for the final 41 yards to push the Catawba lead to 20-0.

The Crusaders got its first points on the final play of the opening half as Matt Gravely connected on a 47-yard field. The Indians had a chance to put the game away in the third quarter, but failed to capitalize on a pair of NGU miscues.

On the first play of the second half, TJ Lowe-Foston intercepted Will Hunter at the Crusader 30. North Greenville was able to avoid giving up points with a sack by Matthew Thomas on fourth down. NGU would add a 24-yard field goal from Gravely to cut the margin to 20-6.

Catawba was given another chance after the Crusaders muffed a punt at NGU 40. Again, the Crusader defense would not allow a first down and Catawba was forced to punt. North Greenville then marched 80 yards in 13 plays and moved within a touchdown after Tristen Jackson scored from a yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Crusaders drove for the tying scoring in the final six minutes. After a 15-yard run from Ashton Heard, Hunter threw a 37-yard pass to Demajiay Rooks to the Catawba five. Jackson would again score from a yard out and the point after tied the score. Catawba marched to the NGU 26in the dying seconds, but Lee Brackman was just wide from 43-yards out which led to overtime.

 Smart ran for 76 yards to pace Catawba on the ground. O’Brien added 47 yards with two big runs on the final drive of regulation to help set up a field goal try. West led the Indian receivers with seven catches. Mobley had 82 yards on five grabs.

Heard ran for 117 yards for the Crusaders, while Jackson added 63 and his two scores. Hunter went 18-of-33 through the air for 228 yards, but was intercepted twice. Rooks and Christian Bruce each had five catches. NGU held a 393-319 edge in yardage, but turned the ball over four times to just once for Catawba.

Murray and Michael Peppers led the Catawba defense with nine tackles. Trey Evans had eight tackles, including one for a loss, with an interception and a fumble recovery. Jordan Hemingway and Kyle Kitchens had sacks. For Kitchens, it marked his eighth of the season. Thomas led the NGU defense with a dozen tackles and the sack.

Catawba returns to league play next Saturday, hosting Wingate at 1:30 pm.

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