VIDEO: Ken Sparks Interview
VIDEO: Andy Hibbett Interview
VIDEO: Jerry Miclisse Interview
VIDEO: Robby Ignagni Interview
VIDEO: Eric Cain interview
Carson-Newman fell behind 14-7 on a Jamel Harbison one-yard touchdown blast before ripping off the next 41 points in the game.
The Eagles rolled up 635 yards of total offense on just 62 plays. The Eagles 10.2 yards a touch is the most since 2008 when C-N gained 10.8 a play against Mars Hill.
However, perhaps more importantly for the Eagles' growth as a club, Carson-Newman forced three turnovers and kept the Lions under 20 points until the final play of the game.
"I just say hallelujah, it was a breakthrough game for us," Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks said. "The one we've been waiting for all year where we did a great job with the kicking game, we did a great job with defense and offense. Now we've got to stop some penalties and we've got to start making plays when we have an opportunity to make a play. We've got to get better."
Running back Andy Hibbett's (Corryton, Tenn.) star shone brightest offensively. The senior only had 191 yards and three TDs on seven carries. His 27.3 yards per rush is the second highest total among running backs with more than five carries in a game.
Hibbett's three touchdowns all came in the second half and helped put the game out of reach.
His first score came on a 58-yard dive, his second on a 65-yard scamper and his third on a 55-yard pitch that started to the right and finished with Hibbett meandering his way back left across the field to the pylon for a score.
Hibbett's trio of touchdowns move him past Vernon Turner and into 10th place on Carson-Newman's all-time rushing touchdown list with a tie with Nate Inman with 29 career rushing touchdowns.
The three scores came within a five-minute span in the third quarter and helped C-N wrap up the win and give its reserves more than a quarter of playing time.
The second half started with scores from quarterback De'Andre Thomas (Milledgeville, Ga.) from eight yards and a yard away. In the interim, the Eagles held Mars Hill to three punts and picked off two passes thanks to David Crumitie and Jawan Holmes. Eric Cain (Jefferson City, Tenn.) intercepted a first half pass that sparked Carson-Newman's scoring run.
The Eagles limited two-time SAC player of the Week Dimitri Holmes to just 55 all-purpose yards. The tally was his lowest in 20 games when he had 44 in his sophomore season (2012 against North Greenville).
"I think our defensive coaches did a great job and I think Coach Waites and the kicking coaches – the SWAG group – did a great job." Sparks said. "Coach Reviez with the kickoff team did a great job and had a good scheme against him (Holmes). Overall I just thought it was a really great day for us."
Thomas finished with 104 yards on the ground on nine carries, including a season-long rush of 41 yards. Thomas also notched his fifth career 200-yard passing performance with 208 yards on nine-of-18 passing.
Jerrry Miclisse (Palm Bay, Fla.) led the Eagles defense with eight tackles while Jasper Mason had the high mark for the Lions with eight stops as well.
Jamel Harbison led the Lions on the ground with 165 yards on 33 carries.
The Eagles break for a mid-season bye week before resuming play October 18 at Tusculum for the Pioneers homecoming.
"Well we're glad to have a bye week because we've got a lot of things to work on, a lot of things to improve on," Sparks said. "We can have a good fundamental practice this week and then take a weekend off and get ready for Tusculum."
Kickoff on Oct. 18 is set for 2:30 p.m. with pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network beginning at 1:30 with the AEC Countdown to Kickoff on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.