Catawba College football notebook: Catawba plays football on Friday

By Ronnie Gallagher, The Salisbury Post There was an uproar during the summer when college football teams scheduled games on Friday, always a high school football night. Catawba played football last Friday but the 2 p.m. start did not interfere with any prep action. With an open date last week, coach David Bennett invited Hargrave Military Academy to Salisbury for a game against his redshirts and backups.J.W. Petty made the most of the opportunity. The little-used tailback attended Hargrave after a career at DeMatha High School so the junior had something to prove to his former coaches. Petty started strong, scoring on a 50-yard run and Catawba went on to a 20-17 victory. “J.W. Petty ran his rear end off,” said Bennett. “Talk about running with heart! *** MORE FACES:During the Hargrave game, Bennett also watched Bret Brown, who has converted from quarterback to receiver, complete 11-of-20 passes as a quarterback. But he loved the matchup on the offensive line the most. “Darryl Holiday and Ryan Daniel went up against a 320-pound lineman who has committed to Auburn,” he said. “And there was a 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker that I wish we could’ve kept here.” *** KICKERS:Catawba baseball coach Jim Gantt was working on the field when he heard the announcer say that senior Matt Gross had just kicked a field goal to beat Hargrave. “Jim was like, ‘Uh-oh, Bennett’s trying to run it up,’ ” Bennett laughed. “We told him later we had to use Gross.” Catawba’s other kickers are all true freshmen who are being redshirted. Had Alan Rohrbaugh, Kevin Womble, Rush Rollins or Cline Ingle kicked, they would have lost a year’s eligibility. So Gross got the call, with some explicit instructions. “We told Matt when he kicked off to sprint straight for the sidelines,” Bennett said of his record-breaking kicker. “We didn’t need him getting hurt.” *** INJURIES: There are still some minor injuries going into Saturday’s game at North Greenville. Defensive lineman Piotr Kalinowski has turf toe. Corey Reese has tendinitis in his knee and Adam Smith is suffering from a sprain. *** REMEMBERING: The open date last week gave the team a chance to shore itself up after allowing 400 yards of offense to Tusculum, which was driving toward the Catawba end zone on the final series when it ran out of downs and lost 21-17. “You’re never pleased with that,” said Bennett, “but the bottom line is, they drove in us late in the game and we found a way to stop them.” *** SECONDARY:A total of 328 Tusculum yards came against the defensive backfield. “We didn’t play like we know we can,” said safety Corey Reese. “We feel like we’ve got the best secondary in the conference.” *** COMING HOME: Bennett was born in Greer, S.C., which is just 15 miles from North Greenville. Bennett actually went back to Greer recently to speak for the first time. *** BY ALL MEANS:After an 8-catch, 142-yard day against Tusculum, junior Nick Means needs one reception to reach 100 for his career. Means, from Thomasville, is currently tied for sixth all-time in receptions and is seventh in yards with 1,488. He is 601 yards away from Ike Hill’s school record. *** PARITY: The South Atlantic Conference is truly a league that has become strong from top to bottom. Mars Hill’s win over Presbyterian and Tusculum’s 37-36 thriller over Carson-Newman last week proved that. “Now, when you mention Catawba, Carson-Newman and Presbyterian, you better mention Mars Hill and Tusculum too,” Bennett said. *** MORE SAC:This week, Wingate is at Presbyterian, Lenoir-Rhyne is at Mars Hill and Carson-Newman travels to Newberry. *** POLLS: The poll Catawba pays the most attention to is the American Football Coaches Association Top 20, which has the Indians fourth. But Don Hansen’s Top 20 has the Indians second. The Indians have been ranked nationally for 23 straight weeks, dating back to November of 1999. Catawba is still second in the South Region and Bennett is not angry about Valdosta State leaping the Indians into first. Valdosta made the move from fourth after beating defending champ Delta State two weeks ago, 70-12. “You beat the national champion like that and you should move somewhere,” Bennett chuckled. *** RANKINGS:Bennett seemed more perturbed when he saw Tusculum, at 6-1, ranked just ninth in the South Region. “That’s not right,” he said. “But we’ve been there. We’ve been in their shoes. Back in 1996, we beat Carson-Newman, who was No. 1, and they stayed ahead of us. So we know how Frankie DeBusk and his staff feels.” *** NOTES: Catawba has won 22 straight regular season games and 16 consecutive at home. ... The Tribe’s win streak in the SAC stands at 15. ... Catawba has scored in 83 straight games, six shy of the record set from 1939-49. ... Last year, North Greenville lost at Catawba 55-0. ... Catawba is giving up just 5.7 points per game, while averaging 30.7. ... Luke Samples leads the SAC in passing efficiency. ... Gross leads the SAC in scoring (46 points) and field goals (10-of-14). ... Linebacker Todd McComb is averaging eight tackles per game, which is sixth in the league. ... After North Greenville, Catawba has a tough two-week stretch, going to Carson Newman Oct. 27 and hosting Mars Hill Nov. 3. ... Mike London’s preview on North Greenville will appear in Saturday’s Post. #######

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