JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-0) rolled up 508 yards of total offense and withstood a Colorado Mines (1-1) rally to stymie the Orediggers 27-24 Saturday afternoon at Campbell Field.
Oredigger kicker Avery Llewellyn missed a 46-yard field goal that would have tied the game with 56 seconds left, thus stunting the CSM rally.
"Heart was the difference in this ballgame," Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks said. "A bunch of kids from Tennessee did not want to lose a ball game today. We had our backs against the wall, but our kids persevered. We didn't have a lot of weakness in our hearts."
Eleventh-ranked Carson-Newman started the game with a bang. De'Andre Thomas (Milledgeville, Ga.) rolled 73 yards around the right side of the line for a score to finish a two-play, 75-yard drive to begin the game in 35 seconds.
Colorado Mines would counter with a Matt Brown 10-yard touchdown run before back-to-back scoring drives capped off by a Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) four-yard TD run and another Thomas scamper, this one from 72 yards away.
Douglas' score was the 35th of his career. That ties Douglas for seventh on the all-time rushing touchdown list with Robert Thomas.
The first half was not without missed opportunities.
Carson-Newman stopped a Mines' drive with a Jarrett East-Brown (Burlington, N.J.) interception at the goal line. However, the Eagles would fumble away their ensuing possession.
In fact, Carson-Newman coughed the football up seven times, losing three of them.
Mines would head into the locker room with momentum after Ty Young snagged a six yard pass from Brown on a slant with 57 seconds left in the first half.
The Orediggers would receive the second half kickoff and cap off that drive with a happenstance play for a score. Brown found Jimmy Ellis on a quick slant over the middle of the field at the C-N 15-yard line where Anthony Baskin (Detroit, Mich.) got a cap on the ball to squirt it loose. However, the ball bounded forward up to the five into the awaiting arms of Diamond Gillis who scored easily, waltzing into the left side of the end zone. A Brown sneak on the two-point conversion tied the game.
Carson-Newman appeared to have swayed the game in its favor when Jaycob Coleman (Norton, Va.) snatched an interception and returned it 28 yards inside the Oredigger 10. However, C-N botched the snap on the next play to give the ball right back to the Orediggers.
"When Jaycob intercepted that pass and gave us the ball inside their 10, then we fumbled it away, it about broke my heart," Sparks said. "A 10-point cushion at that time would have made it a different ballgame."
Instead, the Eagles and Orediggers traded field goals. Curt Duncan's (Morristown, Tenn.) 40 yarder proved to be the difference with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter.
Llewellyn's game-tying attempt was blown back and fell 10 yards short at the goal line.
Thomas led Carson-Newman's offense with 166 yards on the ground and 126 yards through the air on 10-for-15 passes. Douglas picked up 121 yards on the ground on 16 carries for 7.6 yards a touch.
The Eagles conceded 490 yards to the Orediggers. Brown raced for 133 rushing while passing for 332 with 31 completions on 48 attempts. He threw for two scores with the two picks. Jimmy Ellis was his favorite target with 85 yards on 11 grabs.
Carson-Newman's front four generated pressure for the majority of the game, resulting in three sacks. William Alderman (Brooksville, Fla.), Jamar Neal (Columbia, Tenn.) and Joey Maxberry (Columbia, S.C.) all collected sacks along the defensive line.
Coleman led C-N with 12 tackles.
Carson-Newman returns home Sept. 21 against Brevard. The Tornados blustered College of the Faith 69-0 Saturday. Kickoff for the "Bring a Kid to the Game" day is 1 p.m. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network begins at noon with the Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), ESPN Radio The Zone 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.