VIDEO: Ken Sparks Interview
VIDEO: Noah Suber Interview
VIDEO: Lane Bloom Interview
SALISBURY, N.C. – Carson-Newman (1-2, 0-1 South Atlantic Conference) coughed up the pigskin five times as Catawb (1-2, 1-0 SAC) utilized the Eagles' miscues to grab a 40-20 win under partly cloudy skies Saturday afternoon at Shufurd Stadium.
The Eagles gave up three fumbles and tossed two picks. Four of the turnovers came in the second half, snuffing out a potential comeback bid. The five turnovers are the most for the Eagles since they coughed it up six times in a 2010 loss at Newberry.
"We played the kind of ball that will get you beat against anybody," Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks said. "When you turn the ball over like we did. Offensively we were first-and-goal twice on the eight yard-line and get six points instead of 14 points. When you do that against a good defensive football team, you've got to get seven out of it."
Carson-Newman outgained the Indians 431 to 314. Noah Suber (Asheville, N.C.) became the first C-N QB in the modern era to hurl for 200 yards in three consecutive games. He was 13-for-25 through the air with the two picks for 236 yards.
Lonnie Williams produced his first career 100-yard day receiving. He caught five balls for 102 yards.
In spite of 13 tackles, including three for loss from Lane Bloom (Knoxville, Tenn.), plus 10 tackles each from Ja'Quan Smith (Greenville, Ala.) and Jarvis Green (Oviedo, Fla.), Sparks pointed toward missed tackles on the Eagles' defense.
Catawba came into the game converting on 20 percent of their third downs (6-for-30), but converted on 8-of-14 against the Eagles.
"We had so many missed tackles," Sparks said. "That's why we gave up so many third downs. We gave up third-and-long a bunch of times. I think we can be a good football team, but we've got to find a way to get off the field on third down.
"We'll have nine or 10 guys playing good football, then one or two that's not on that particular play. At that point in the play, it seems like that's the point where we're getting killed with a missed tackle or bad execution. We're not doing what we're coached to do or sometimes not coaching them very good to do it. We've got to get 11 guys on the same page. We've got to get old Coach Sparks on the same page and we'll be a whole lot better."
Carson-Newman made it look easy on its opening possession. The Eagles weaved their way down the field before Noah Suber (Asheville, N.C) pounded into the end zone on a 10-yard option keeper. Suber ran right, stopped on a dime at the 10, then shuffled left into the end zone untouched to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
Catawba responded methodically. The Indians plugged their way down field on a 14-play, 75 yard drive that ended on a bruising Eamon Smart run up the middle. Catawba took 5:36 off the clock on the drive to tie the game.
The Eagles went back in front a drive later after Carson Wise (Blacksburg, Va.) connected on a 19-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
Noah Suber threw for 236 yards and ran for 36 more and a score in a 40-20 loss at Catawba.
C-N appeared poised to take a big lead after forcing the Indians off the field with a punt. Suber drove C-N down to the Indians' 10, but then tossed his first interception of the season, a pick six. Carson-Newman transfer Case Woodard hauled in the INT and took it 89 yards the other way to give Catawba a 14-10 advantage.
C-N went three-and-out on its next possession with Jonathan King's (Knoxville, Tenn.) punt tipped by Woodard. It travelled 10 yards and gave Catawba a 51-yard field that it used to set up a field goal for freshman kicker Brennan Lambert.
Lambert knuckleballed a career-long 27-yard field goal inside the left upright to push Catawba's lead to 17-10 with 5:49 left in the half.
The Eagles would respond before the half let out. Carson-Newman ate up 5:06 of clock and got within four on Wise's second field goal of the half, this of the 27-yard variety.
Carson-Newman outgained Catawba 251-133 in total offense for the first half.
Lane Bloom led the Eagles with 13 tackles in a 40-20 loss at Catawba in the league opener for the group.
"We've got to make some of our own breaks and we're not doing that right now," Sparks said. "We're making a lot of young mistakes and gambling on defense. We're getting burned with it."
The second half started inauspiciously for the Eagles. Catawba drove down the field in nine plays with Shehann punctuating the possession with a 15-yard option keeper to put the Indians up 24-13.
Following the first of three, second-half fumbles for the Eagles, Quientel Goodwin ripped off the first 20-yard run of the season for the Indians. The running back took it 30 yards around right tackle to house one and put Catawba up 31-13.
Carson-Newman wouldn't go quietly as Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) smashed into the end zone with a second remaining in the third quarter to bring C-N within 11, 31-20, on a two-yard blast.
However, that would be as close as the Eagles would get. Three turnovers, two fumbles and pick, marred the fourth quarter, leading to a trio of Brennan Lambert field goals. The kicks put the game on ice and gave Catawba a 40-20 win.
"We played hard and continued to play hard at the end," Sparks said. "We've got a lot of growing up to do. We've got some immaturity that shows up that's not fun to be around. We've just got to somehow keep developing and maturing. We're going to play better teams than Catawba. We better get ready."
Montavious Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) led the Eagles on the ground. He carried the ball 14 times for 66 yards. Wimbush added 54 yards on 20 carries, while Jamal Jones (Chattanooga, Tenn.) had five carries for 39 yards.
The Eagles averaged 3.7 yards per carry offensively.
Sheehan completed 19 of his 27 passes to lead the Indians offensively with 147 yards through the air. Bruce Smith was his top target with five catches for 47 yards.
Smart had 109 yards rushing on 24 carries for the Indians. Jamal Lackey was the Indians top defender with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Carson-Newman returns home to play Mars Hill Saturday, Sept. 24. Kickoff between the Eagles and Lions has been moved up to noon. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 11:00 a.m. with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.