TIGERVILLE, S.C. – No. 18 Carson-Newman (7-1) steamrolled to 582 yards of total offense in a 47-26 victory at North Greenville (4-4). The win is C-N's fourth consecutive. The Eagles have scored at least 40 points in each win.
Carson-Newman showed balance, passing for 231 yards and rushing for 351. De'Andre Thomas (Milledgeville, Ga.) became the first Carson-Newman quarterback since Alex Good in 2007 to pass for more than 200 yards in two games in a season. He was 15-of-22 through the air.
Thomas also connected with Andy Hibbett (Corryton, Tenn.) for his first career receiving touchdown to snap a six-week streak where the Eagles failed to pass for a score – the longest such streak this century.
"People were loading up on us to stop the run and De'Andre was able to throw the football," Sparks said. "The better we throw it, the better off we are. We have to continue to work on it, but De'Andre's getting better every week and has an unbelievable game today."
Anthony Eubanks (Pendleton, S.C.) snared eight passes for 138 yards. It took Carson-Newman 41 years to have an eight-catch performance prior to Eubanks' eight grabs against Shorter. Now, he's pulled that stunt off in two of the Eagles' last three contests.
The Eagles held their first pass-first quarterback to under 300 yards this season, although North Greenville gunslinger Nelson Hughes still tossed for 285 yards completing 31 of 41 throws.
The Eagles limited the nation's leading receiver Freddie Martino to 50 yards and four catches below his season averages, but Martino still managed to go for 11 grabs, 109 yards and two scores.
"At times today we we're a very poor tackling team," Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks said. "I know that gives the defensive coaches fits. But we need to give North Greenville some credit too, they've got some people run that can make you miss."
North Greenville raced out of the gates with an eight-play, 74-yard drive capped off by a one-yard out route touchdown pass to Martino to open up a 7-0 lead on Carson-Newman with 12:06 left in the opening quarter.
The Eagles would respond with 17 unanswered points. Curt Duncan (Morristown, Tenn.) buried a 20-yard field goal, Thomas ran a six-yard option fake and Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) burst through a hole on the right side of the line to scamper for a 35-yard score. The run pushed Baker past the 3,000 yard mark for his career. With his nine-carry, 77-yard performance, Baker passed Nate Inman for seventh on the career yards list with 3,020 career rushing yards.
North Greenville would counter Baker's score with a seven-play 59-yard drive finished off by a Simeon Byrd touchdown run from a yard away.
However, the Eagles finished off the first half with their longest drive of the season, an eight—play, 95-yard trek down the field culminating in Tyron Douglas' (Clover, S.C.) one-yard touchdown run with 1:28 left before the teams headed to the locker rooms.
Both teams sputtered on their opening possessions of the second half before North Greenville inched closer to the Eagles on Martino's second touchdown of the day, an 11-yarder down the right hash.
North Greenville would have been within four of the Eagles had Sean Rawson not blocked Justin Gravely's ensuing point after attempt. Jarrett East-Brown (Burlington, N.J.) scooped the block and returned it 85 yards for a rare defensive point after touchdown. The three-point swing gave Carson-Newman a touchdown lead.
The Eagles rung up 21 fourth quarter points to cement the win. The Eagles closed out by stopping a North Greenville drive with an interception – the ninth straight week the Eagles have picked off a pass. Javaris Neal (Columbia, Tenn.) batted a Hughes pass into the air at the line of scrimmage, allowing William Alderman (Brooksville, Fla.) to snare his first career interception.
Hibbett picked up his first career TD catch on the ensuing drive to seal the 21-point win for the Eagles.
Sparks said he was proud of C-N's focus leading up to the game with a contest against nationally-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne looming next week.
"We had a lot of those mind games against us this ball game, it was so great to get out of here with a victory with all those things against us," Sparks said. "Today was a 'grow-up' day for us. In some ways I thought we had a good week of preparation, but I also had to fuss a bit. But overall, they really came through today."
Jaycob Coleman (Norton, Va.) notched 15 tackles and a tackle for loss to lead the Eagles defensively. Michael Ross (Miami, Fla.) had eight stops in his first action with the first stringers this season.
Douglas and Hibbett both crested the century mark for rushing yards. Douglas had 128 yards and Hibbett -100.
"I just pray everyday that we'll honor God with our play," Sparks said. "I pray that we always take steps forward in being mature. It's spiritual more than anything else. And it impacts how we make decisions."
Carson-Newman stays on the road next week for a collision with no. 24 Lenoir-Rhyne. Kickoff against the Bears is set for 2 p.m. Pregame coverage begins at 1 on the Eagle Sports Network with the Tailgate Show, heard on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), 106.3 ESPN Radio the Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.