VIDEO: Ken Sparks Interview
VIDEO: Sha'Heem Stupart Interview
VIDEO: Dan Gallman Interview
TIGERVILLE, S.C. – Carson-Newman put forth its lowest offensive total of the season as North Greenville (6-4) snapped a four-game skid against the Eagles (4-6) with a 34-24 win Saturday afternoon at Tony and Margaret Fogle Field at Melvin and Dolly Younts Stadium.
The loss means Carson-Newman is guaranteed its second losing season since 1978.
North Greenville outgained Carson-Newman 430 to 300. The Eagles' 300 yards of total offense are their lowest output of the season.
The Crusaders also outgained the Eagles on the ground 220 to 160. It marks the second time this year that a team has outgained Carson-Newman on the ground.
"We just couldn't make a play at times when we really needed to make a play," Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks said. "There was a lot left on that field that we could have taken advantage of today. Its apart of growing up I guess. We just need to figure out how to get the right guys on the field and convince them that they can make some of those plays. Offensively, it seemed like every time we had an opportunity we had someone break down again. Offensive line is really struggling with break downs but they are not the only ones. We have a way of choosing it up and passing it around."
Antonio Wimbush (Waveland, Miss.) had a banner day for the Eagles. The sophomore running back notched his fifth career 100-yard performance with 105 yards on 17 carries. He also snagged six passes for 90 yards and a score.
Noah Suber (Asheville, N.C.) was 13-for-21 through the air for 160 yards. He was also sacked five times. Carson-Newman has been sacked 30 times this season, the most since 2000. Nearly half of those sacks came in two games (Newberry and North Greenville).
"North Greenville did a great job changing their coverages," Sparks said. "They mixed them up and seemed like they guessed better than I did sometimes. That made out passing percentage a little bit lower than it should have been. They have a good defensive mindset and they did a good job executing. It's not so much as that you do but it's how you do it. They did some things very well."
Carson-Newman punter Jonathan King (Knoxville, Tenn.) set a school record with an 82-yard punt. The boot is the third longest punt of the year in all of NCAA Division II.
The first two drives featured a pair of punts for the two squads.
North Greenville took advantage of a Carson-Newman missed 50-yard field goal. NGU pushed the ball down the field quickly. Matt Gravely polished off an 11-play, 63-yard drive with a 21-yard field goal to give the Crusaders the initial lead.
It would be a lead NGU would extend. Following a C-N three-and-out, Will Hunter navigated the Crusaders down the field in four plays. The Crusaders capped off a 60-yard drive with a Hunter 16-yard pass to Bobby Foos that extended NGU's lead to 10-0 with 12:04 left in the second quarter.
Carson-Newman's offense got untracked on the next drive. A 13-play, 59-yard drive ended with a Carson Wise 33-yard boot that put the Eagles on the board with 6:23 left in the second.
That set up a 23-yard field goal for the Eagles. Four plays later, Noah Suber (Asheville, N.C.) plunged in for a one-yard score to even things up.
NGU had the last punch in the first half with a Javon Smith one-yard end-around run that gave NGU a 17-10 lead after 30 minutes.
The second half began with a scoreless third quarter on both sides and remained the same until North Greenville's Christian Bruce hauled in Hunter second touchdown pass of the day from 27 yards away.
Carson-Newman immediately responded on the following possession with a touchdown catch of its own as Suber connected with Wimbush for a 53-yard score. The touchdown put the Eagles behind by seven with 12:42 remaining in the game.
On the first play from scrimmage following a kickoff out-of-bounds from Wise, Tracy Scott ripped the football right up the middle of the line of scrimmage for a 65-yard touchdown run. The explosive run put the Crusaders up by two scores at 31-17.
After punting the ball back and forth over the next eight minutes, Suber found pay dirt once more for the Eagles with his second one-yard touchdown sneak of the day. The score once again brought C-N to within a touchdown at 31-24.
After a failed onside kick attempt, the Crusaders were set up with prime field possession at Carson-Newman's 48-yard line. Six plays later, Gravely connected on a 32-yard boot that split the uprights for his second field goal of the game. The score was the last of the game as the Crusaders held on for the 34-24 non-conference win.
"The game you always remember is your last game and we have 19 seniors who that we want them to remember something good about this year," Sparks said. "We do have a lot of great things to remember about this year. I'd like for us to add one more to it and have a good last ballgame."
Carson-Newman concludes its season with the second oldest rivalry game in the state of Tennessee against Tusculum. Kickoff against the Pioneers is set for 1:30 p.m. from Greeneville. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 12:30 on the Eagle Sports Network with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville) and online at cneagles.com/live.