SALISBURY, N.C – The Carson-Newman Eagles (3-2, 2-2 SAC) used a strong ground attack to power ahead to a 42-7 victory over the Catawba Indians (3-3, 1-2 SAC) at Shuford Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles built a 21-0 lead over the Indians early into the second quarter, and after a second quarter Indians touchdown, Carson-Newman outscored Catawba 21-0 in the second half en route to the five-touchdown victory.
"It was very gratifying to see us block and tackle the way we did today," said Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks. "We played with a lot more purpose, played with more energy, I thought our guys were in 'attack mode' first time we've been like that in a ball game this year. I'm very proud of the defense the way they came out and established really the whole tempo of the ballgame."
Carson-Newman ran the ball effectively, with 377 yards on the ground compared to Catawba's 24. Carson-Newman had 422 yards of total offense while the Indians gained only 135 yards. Junior running back Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) cracked the century mark on the ground with 121 yards rushing on 17 carries.
The Eagles have now won their last five games over the Indians with Carson-Newman outscoring Catawba by an average of 41-18 in those contests.
Carson-Newman scored on its first possession for the fourth time in five games when quarterback Brandon Haywood (Rockmart, Ga.) connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jason Brown (Plant City, Fla.) to give the Eagles a 7-0 advantage. After the C-N defense forced a three-and-out, the Eagles marched 61 yards on 11 plays on their next drive, ending in a Haywood touchdown dive to put Carson-Newman ahead by two touchdowns.
The Indians once again went three-and-out on their next drive, and Carson-Newman would again pick up a score on the ground, as Andy Hibbett (Corryton, Tenn.) scored from six yards out to put Carson-Newman's lead to 21-0 minutes into the second quarter.
The teams exchanged punts on their next series, with Catawba putting their only points on the board with 6:58 left in the second quarter as quarterback B.J. Sherrill completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Diante Hodges to cut Carson-Newman's lead to 21-7, which would be the halftime score. The Eagles nearly doubled the time of possession in the first half, with Carson-Newman outgaining Catawba 207-79 in total offense in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Eagles added to their advantage with Haywood's second rushing touchdown of the day putting Carson-Newman's lead at 28-7 with 6:42 left in the quarter. The third quarter also featured Carson-Newman's first interception this season, as Sean Rawson (Cape Coral, Fla.) intercepted a Sherrill pass and returned it 19 yards.
The Eagles added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Tyron Douglas scoring from eight yards out early in the fourth quarter to cap his 63-yard day rushing the football, giving the Eagles a 35-7 lead. Freshman quarterback De'Andre Thomas (Milledgeville, Ga.) added the final Eagle score on his 16-yard touchdown rush with 8:46 left in the game.
The Eagles dominated time of possession, with Carson-Newman holding the ball for over 37:21 compared to Catawba's 22:39 mark, including the first quarter when the Eagles had the ball for just over 11 of the 15 minutes.
In addition to Haywood's two rushing touchdowns, the senior also had an effective day passing the football. He was a perfect 4-for-4 passing for 45 yards with a touchdown. Haywood also ran the football 15 times for 57 yards.
"I have to give Coach Mike Turner and the offensive staff a lot of credit like I give Coach Mike Clowney and the defensive staff credit for the game plan," said Sparks. "But it always comes back to the kids, all the credit should go to them."
Carson-Newman will next play next Saturday Oct. 13 against North Greenville for Homecoming at Burke-Tarr Stadium at 3 p.m. Fans can listen to the contest on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network, with coverage beginning with the Farm Bureau Tailgate Show at 2 p.m.