JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - No. 17 Carson-Newman (1-0) scored on its first six possessions to cruise to an impressive 55-28 victory over Wayne State (0-1) in the first game of the season for both teams Thursday night at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
One of the biggest questions coming into the season for C-N (1-0) was at the quarterback position but sophomore De'Andre Thomas (Milledgeville, Ga.) answered the call, throwing for 213 yards and three touchdowns.
The night was a record-setter for Thoams. His 357.14 pass efficiency rating is a single game record and just the third 300+ rating since the stat was kept in 1998. Secondly, his 213 yards through the air mark the first 200-yard passing performance since Alex Good – C-N's current QB coach – went for 256 yards in the opener against Winona State in 2009.
Thomas' favorite target on the night was Anthony Eubanks (Pendleton, S.C.) who caught his first two touchdowns of his career. Those two receptions covered 97 yards. Steven Isom (Alcoa, Tenn.) grabbed three passes and a score for his second career TD.
The Eagles used a balanced attack as they rushed for 363 yards, led by Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) who toted the ball 14 times for 82 yards and three touchdowns.
With the three scores, Douglas is a touchdown away from tying Robert Thomas for seventh on the list for career rushing touchdowns at 35.
"Offensively, we were a pretty dominant football team in the first half," C-N head coach Ken Sparks said. "That was a good beginning for De'Andre. He has a long way to go but it was a good start. Overall, there was a lot to be thankful for and to be excited about."
From the beginning of camp, Sparks has said this year's group of Eagles is special and they reinforced that feeling in the mind of their head coach in Thursday's game.
"This group has responded every time we have called on them. They have some 'want to' about them. If you want to and trust the Lord, you can make some things happen," Sparks said. "This was a good start against a good football team,"
Eubanks' first score of the night came early in the opening quarter when Thomas found him for a 34-yard score. Curt Duncan (Morristown, Tenn.) was good on the extra point as the Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The Warriors (0-1) tied the score at 7-7 when Desmond Martin ran in from 21 yards out. Carson-Newman scored on their next two positions as Andy Hibbett (Corryton, Tenn.) rambled in from 43 yards – a career long run - and Douglas made the first of his three trips to the end zone on a six-yard jaunt.
The Warriors cut the lead to 21-14 when Carl Roscoe connected with Jay Hayes for a six-yard strike. But from that point on, it was all Eagles as Carson-Newman scored 21 points in about four minutes. Douglas scored a pair of three-yard touchdowns and Thomas threw a 63-yard bomb to Eubanks who capped the scoring drive to give the Eagles a 42-14 lead at the half.
The Eagles got the ball to start the second half and wasted little time in striking pay dirt again as Thomas found Steven Isom wide open across the middle for a 40-yard catch and score. Wayne State scored the next two touchdowns as Dominic Maybanks caught a 41-yard pass from Sean Guinane and Val Showers had a six yard scoring reception from Guinane to make it 48-28.
The final score of the game was a defensive one as Carson-Newman sophomore Eien Jacob (Jeanerette, La.) had a 26-yard pick-six to produce the 55-28 final.
Wayne State used a dual threat at quarterback. Carl Roscoe was 14-of-23 for 200 yards, a touchdown and a pick and Sean Guinane was 12-of-22 for 133 yards and two scores. Michael Johnson had seven receptions for 112 yards in the loss.
The Eagles travel west next weekend as they take on Colorado School of Mines in Golden. The Warriors play their home opener as they host Ashland.
Catch the Eagles contest with the Orediggers on the Eagle Sports Network on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville) and on 106.3 ESPN Radio The Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville), as well as online at cneagles.com/live starting with the Tailgate Show an hour before kickoff at 1 p.m.