Fast Start Propels Football Past Tusculum


SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba scored three touchdowns in the opening seven minutes and went on to grab a 31-28 win over visiting Tusculum in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium and Kirkland Field. The Catawba Indians up their record to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the SAC, while the Pioneers fall to 4-5 and 2-4.

A 61-yard run by Jyrea Martin set up the initial score just 58 seconds into the game. Martin took it in from the three on the next play after his long run. Catawba’s defense keyed the next two scores as the Indians went up 21-0 in the opening moments.

On the second Tusculum play, Jeremiah Ferguson sacked Ivan Corbin, who fumbled. Christian Campbell recovered to set the Indians up at the Pioneer 17. Two plays later, Ken Avent tossed a 17-yard pass to Evan Rojas for a 14-0 edge.

Isaiah Taylor made the next play for Catawba, intercepting Corbin at midfield and returning it to the Tusculum 14. Daniel Parker would get the scoring, powering in from the one at the 8:26 mark of the first quarter.

Tusculum got on the board late in the quarter as Maurice Gomillion capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive with a one-yard run. The Pioneers converted two fourth downs on the drive.

Catawba stretched its lead late in the first half. Avent hooked up with Kujuan Pryor for an 81-yard touchdown at the 2:19 mark of the second quarter. The defense forced a three-and-out and Martin burst for 48 yards on a third-and-16 to the Pioneer 24 inside the final minute of the half. That run led to a 47-yard field goal by Clayton Crile and a 31-7 Catawba lead at the break.

The Pioneers got a quick touchdown in the third quarter and were driving again when Landon Johnson sacked Tre Simmons and forced a fumble to end the drive. Simmons, who had run for the third-quarter score by the Pioneers, threw a 24-yard pass to Justice Parham with 11:49 remaining that cut Catawba’s margin to 31-21.

Catawba gave up a late score, but recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock. The Pioneers also tried an onside kick after cutting the margin to 31-21 that was also recovered by Catawba. The Indians defense also stopped Tusculum on downs after the Pioneers had blocked a Catawba field goal try.

Martin had a big day for Catawba, running for 159 yards on 23 carries. Pryor had three catches for 103 yards. The Catawba defense posted seven sacks, forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes. Ferguson had two of the sacks.

Simmons took over as the Tusculum signal caller in the second half and completed 16-of-24 passes for 205 yards and two scores. He ran for 44 yards and another touchdown. Cortney Jackson ran for 75 yards and Gomillion caught six passes for 47 yards.

Catawba is at home next Saturday, hosting UVA Wise at 1 p.m.

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