MARS HILL, NC -- Catawba tried to dig out of a 21-0 halftime deficit, but came up short in a 35-28 loss to host Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Mears Stadium. The Lions improve to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the SAC, while the Catawba Indians fall to 3-4 and 1-3.
Catawba managed just 83 yards in the opening half in falling behind by three touchdowns. It could have been worse, but the Lions missed a short field goal try to end the half. The Lions still led 28-7 after three quarters before the Indians scored twice in a three minute span to close within a score.
BJ Sherrill (Cleveland, NC/W. Rowan HS) threw a 30-yard pass to Nate Charest (Charlotte, NC/Butler HS) Brandon with 14:42 remaining then Charest tossed a 24-yard pass to Jarrid McKinney (Charlotte, NC/Providence) on a fourth down play to cut the deficit to 28-21 with 11:21 remaining.
Mars Hill answered that score, but following a long kickoff return by LJ McCray (Charlotte, NC/Harding HS), Xavier Bond (Smiths Station, AL/Glenwood Academy) went in from six yards out to bring the Indians within 35-28 with 6:40 to go. Catawba would get the ball back, but were denied on downs with just over a minute to play and the Lions ran out the clock.
The Lions jumped out quickly, scoring on their opening drive on a fourth-down pass from Jon Richt to Jeremy Hughes from two yards away. In the second quarter, Shaikel Davis ran in from a yard out and Richt added a second touchdown strike, 31 yards to Josh Young, for the 21-0 bulge at the half.
Sherrill finished the day with three touchdown passes for Catawba, going 18-of-46 for 155 yards. Charest caught seven passes for 71 yards. Richt threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns for Mars Hill. Davis ran for 116 yards on 34 carries. Jennings and Dimitri Holmes each went over 100 yards in receiving and caught 10 passes.
Cory Johnson (Fayetteville, NC/Britt HS) posted double-digit tackles for the second straight game with 15 vs. the Lions as did Jason Taylor (Bahama, NC/Northern HS), who made 13 stops on Saturday. Jacob Hanes had three tackles for loss, including a sack, while Lucas Riebe (Wellington, FL/Wellington HS) had an interception.