JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Junior kicker Carlos Lopez (Seymour, Tenn.) connected on a 25-yard field goal as the buzzer sounded to give Carson-Newman College a 27-24 victory over Brevard in a South Atlantic Conference match up at Burke-Tarr Stadium Saturday.
The Eagles improve their 2011 record to 4-5 on the year and 2-3 in the South Atlantic Conference. Brevard is now 3-6 and 1-4 in the conference.
Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks pushed his career victories total to 298, just two games away from 300 with two games to go in the season. Sparks is vying to become the 12th man in NCAA history to reach 300 wins.
It was a banner day for the Carson-Newman rushing attack as it piled up 311 yards against the Tornados. The Eagles defense held Brevard, the No. 5-ranked rushing offense in the country to just 140 yards on the ground.
It was also a banner day for C-N's special teams squads. In addition to the game-winner, Lopez put Carson-Newman's first points on the board in the opening quarter with a 38-yard field goal.
Freshman punter Charlie Rhea (Norcross, Ga.) set up the second Carson-Newman score by teaming up with sophomore linebacker Jonathan Sites to pin the Tornadoes at their own four yard-line in the second quarter. The Eagles defense forced a three-and-out and after taking over at the Brevard 48, C-N drive quickly down the field before sophomore running back Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) popped loose for a 25-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles didn't take the lead into halftime as a costly fumble from junior quarterback Brandon Haywood (Rockmart, Ga.) was returned 35 yards for a touchdown by Tornados linebacker Rufus Jenkins. Brevaed led at the half 14-10.
Carson-Newman took its first lead with the first possession of the third quarter. Senior running back Nate Inman (Fitzgerald, Ga.), Haywood and Douglas teamed up for an 11-play, 64-yard, nearly five-minute drive that culminated in an 18-yard Inman TD run.
The Eagles seemed primed to put the game away when they scored on their next possession, with Douglas punching the ball in from the four for a 24-14 lead.
Instead, Brevard opened up the playbook and their passing game, with quarterback Aaron Reese hooking up with 6-foot-4 wide receiver Eric Watts, who also happens to be the team's punter, for a 46-yard touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter.
A Douglas fumble deep in Brevard territory kept the Eagles from expanding their lead and gave the Tornados a chance to tie the game. Reese again went to Watts for the big play, this time a 36-yard gain down the left sideline down to the C-N four. The Eagles' defense kept Brevard out of the end zone, but kicker Asutin Clark banged the ball off the inside of the left upright and through to tie the game 24-24.
With 3:45 left in the game, C-N took over at their 47 after a 42-yard kick return from freshman Jarret East-Brown (Burlington, N.J.). On third-and-11, Haywood found Douglas open on a screen that the running back took 32 yards to the Brevard 12 with 40 seconds to go. C-N ran one more play, a 4-yard Douglas rush before sending Lopez and the kicking unit on the field to drill the 25-yard game-winner as time expired.
Douglas finished the game with 20 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Haywood had 23 carries for 87 yards and Inman carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards and a score.
Defensive end Zeke Andrews had nine tackles and two sacks.
The Eagles will be back in action next week for Senior Day at Burke-Tarr Stadium when they host Tusculum at 1 p.m.