Football holds off Mars Hill on Jackson's late interception

   SALISBURY, NC – Catawba College held off a late charge by Mars Hill and claimed a 26-20 win over the Lions in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field.  The Indians, ranked 15th in the AFCA poll, improve to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the SAC, while Mars Hill falls to 4-2 and 0-2.
Catawba built leads of 20-7 and 26-14 in the final quarter, but the game was not decided until Jamel Jackson (Concord, NC) picked off Antjuan Welch (Hephzibah, GA) with 53 seconds to play.  Welch had cut the deficit to 26-20 on a three-yard run with 3:38 remaining, but the Lions failed to recover an onside kick attempt.  Catawba earned one first down and punted the ball back to Mars Hill with 2:01 left.  Welch completed first down passes to Rod Dewalt (Prosperity, SC) and Robbie Wester (Royal Palm Beach, FL) to the Tribe 39, but Jackson made a diving interception at the 14 on a deep pass to Dewalt to end the final threat.

Catawba led 7-0 at the half after a 28-yard pass from Luke Samples (Elkin, NC) to Mario Crowe (Charlotte, NC) with 9:49 remaining in the opening quarter.  The Indians failed on fourth down at the Lion one on their next series and again in the second quarter at the Lion 33.  Catawba had a 33-yard field goal try by Allan Rohrbaugh (Lexington, NC) hit the upright with 1:21 in the half to keep the game at 7-0.

Catawba rolled up 286 yards of offense in the opening half, while the Tribe defense held the Lions to just 49.  It marked the second straight week the Catawba defense had held an opponent under 50 yards in the opening half as Presbyterian totaled just 31 yards in the first half last week.

The Indians turned a Mars Hill fumble on its opening possession of the second half into a touchdown when Samples threw a 52-yard strike Corey Ready (Aiken, SC) for a 14-0 lead at the 11:27 mark of the third quarter.  The Lions would get on the board two possessions later as Dewalt hauled in a 40-yard pass from Welch to cut the lead to 14-7 with 4:16 to go in the third period.

Catawba answered right back as Samples and tailback Rodney Wallace (Bamberg, SC) hooked up for a 50-yard scoring pass, but the point after was missed and the Indians led 20-7 at the 1:03 mark of the third quarter.  Dewalt and Welch combined for a 19-yard score early in the fourth to bring the Lions within 20-14 with 10:17 remaining, but Catawba answered back on a two-yard run by Wallace with 6:07 left.  The touchdown by Wallace set a new Catawba record for rushing touchdowns in a career with 29, breaking the old record of Tony Georgiana set from 1940-42 and 1946.  

After Wallace’s touchdown, Catawba missed on a two-point try leaving the score at 26-14.  Mars Hill would answer on Welch’s rush to set up Jackson’s game-saving interception.  Wallace led a Catawba ground attack that totaled 209 yards, gaining 95 on 22 carries.  Samples added 56 on the ground and completed 13-of-25 passes for 288 yards and three scores.  Welch was 11-of-19 for 186 yards with two touchdowns through the air and ran for 39 yards and a score on the ground.  The Lions finished with 317 total yards to 497 for Catawba.


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