JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The University of North Carolina-Pembroke showed why the have one of the top offenses in the country Saturday at Burke-Tarr Stadium. The Braves rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense, with sophomore quarterback Luke Charles accounting for 394 yards of it through the air in 42-14 victory over Carson-Newman.
UNC-Pembroke is 6-2 on the season and is still in the hunt for an NCAA Division II playoff spot after the victory. The Eagles are 3-5 on the season, the first time they've ever posted such a record under head coach Ken Sparks and only the second time they've lost five games in a single season in his 32-year tenure.
The Braves came into the game averaging 42 points per game and scored exactly that, though the C-N defense did keep them bottled up for much of the first half.
The Eagles took a 7-0 lead on their opening possession, with senior running back Nate Inman (Fitzgerald, Ga.) capping the eight-play, 49-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
UNC-Pembroke responded with a quick scoring drive of their own with Charles using running back Travis Daniels as a runner and receiver. Daniels gained every yard on the Braves' scoring drive, catching a 27-yard pass and ending the drive on a one-yard TD run.
Until the final two minutes of the first half, Carson-Newman's defense forced three key Braves stops, including forcing a turnover and holding UNC-P on a fourth-and-one rushing attempt. The offense couldn't take advantage of the opportunities and the Braves finally made them pay.
With a little over a minute left in the second quarter, Charles found wide receiver Jamelle Banks open across the middle on a third-and-10 play, gaining 32 yards. Two plays later Charles tossed a touchdown pass to Donald Britt to go up 14-7.
The Braves wasted no time taking a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter. On UNC-Pembroke's first possession, Charles opened up with short out passes to Te'vell Williams and Rakeem Overby, before finding Joe Burnett down field for a 58-yard completion down to the C-N five yard-line. Daniels needed two plays to take the ball in, scoring from the four.
The Eagles bounced right back with their next chance with the ball. Junior quarterback Brandon Haywood (Rockmart, Ga.) tossed a perfect bomb to freshman wideout Anthony Eubanks (Pendleton, S.C.) to set Carson-Newman up at the UNC-P 14. Sophomore running back Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) tore up the center of the field on the next play for a 14-yard TD run. C-N trailed 21-14, but never got any closer.
The Braves unleashed a 15-play, nearly seven minute drive that ate up the rest of the third quarter. Daniels scored on his second one-yard run of the day, pushing UNC-P's lead back to two touchdowns.
C-N's bad injury luck continued on their next possession. Haywood was knocked from the game from a hard hit after pitching the ball to Inman on an option run. Backup quarterback Sean Seabolt (Kingsport, Tenn.) fumbled on the following play, setting up another easy UNC-Pembroke score.
The Braves put the game away on their next possession, with Charles ending the drive himself with a two-yard run.
C-N linebacker Larry Lumpkin (Grand Bay, Ala.) recorded another double-digit tackle game, recording 11 with one for a loss. Douglas rushed 12 times for 76 yards and a TD. Inman had 15 carries for 65 yards and a score.
Haywood finished 5-for-7 passing for 89 yards and added 29 yards on the ground. Eubanks caught three passes for 76 yards.
Daniels had 28 carries for 95 yards and three touchdowns for UNC-P. Burnett was Charles' favorite target, catching five passes for 129 yards.
The Eagles face off against South Atlantic Conference rival Brevard next Saturday at Burke-Tarr Stadium. Kick off is set for 1 p.m.