Second half surge powers Carson-Newman past Mars Hill

C-N Football Highlights v. Mars Hill 9-24-16
Sep 24, 2016

VIDEO: Ken Sparks Interview 

VIDEO: Desmond Fairell Interview  

VIDEO: Jerry Miclisse Interview  

VIDEO: Austin Lewis Interview  

VIDEO: Montavious Taylor Interview 

VIDEO: Highlights 

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-2, 1-1 South Atlantic Conference) scored 28 unanswered points off timely turnovers to put away Mars Hill (2-2, 0-1 SAC) 52-27 on a scorching hot Saturday afternoon at Burke-Tarr Stadium. 

Carson-Newman rolled up 672 yards of total offense, tied for the eighth highest total in school history, on a school-record 100 plays.  Meanwhile, the Eagles' defense picked off four passes, tied for the second most in school history to seal C-N's first conference victory of the year and a fifth consecutive win over the Lions. 

"I'm thankful that we're making progress," head coach Ken Sparks said. "I thought we made some pretty obvious strides in this one.  We can build on this one and get a lot better off of it."

The story of the day for the Eagles was a resurgent defense in the second half.  Mars Hill accounted for 325 yards of total offense in the first half, but the Eagles limited the Lions to 32 yards of offense in the third quarter and 101 for the whole second half. 

"Our defensive coaches needed some encouragement," Sparks said. "At one time, we had six or seven freshmen on the field and had six or seven freshmen deliver on the field at once.  That was very encouraging to me and to our defensive coaches to see that development."

Carson-Newman Football: Montatvious Taylor Recaps Mars Hill 9-24-16
Sep 24, 2016

Senior running back Montavious Taylor breaks down his 24-carry, 134-yard, two-touchdown day.

Carson-Newman Football: Desmond Fairell Recaps Mars Hill 9-24-16
Sep 24, 2016

Freshman corner Desmond Fairell recorded a pair of interceptions in a 52-27 victory.

Three straight third-quarter interceptions, two from Desmond Fairell (Miami, Fla.) and another from Jason Williams (Fayetteville, Ga.) proved to be the difference for the Eagles.  After the three straight picks, MHU went three-and-out on its fourth possession of the second half. 

"The first five minutes of each half are always so important," head coach Ken Sparks said. "I thought our football team really came through with that in the second half.  It was really fun to watch the defense get four turnovers.  They really did a great job today and were very impressive in the second half."

Once more, the Eagles vaunted veer-option featured a balanced approach.  C-N tallied 428 yards rushing with 244 through the air.  Noah Suber upped is streak of consecutive 200-yard passing performances to four.  He was 12-for-23 through the air for 247 yards. 

Carson-Newman Football: Ken Sparks Recaps Mars Hill 9-24-16
Sep 24, 2016

Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks breaks down the Eagles 52-27 victory over Mars Hill.

Montavious Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) carried the water for the Eagles' rushing attack with two touchdowns  and 134 yards on a career-high 24 carries.  Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) added 67 yards on 14 carries with a pair of scores as well.  Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) was C-N's third-leading rusher with 55 yards on five carries.  He had a 29 yard touchdown run.

Lonnie Williams (Philadelphia, Pa.) recorded his second career 100-yard receiving performance, doing so on four receptions.  Dorren Miller (Roswell, Ga.) had a career day as well with four catches for 52 yards. 

"Coach Turner and the offensive coaches had a great game plan," Sparks said with a grin forming on his face. "I think I made him a little angry when I told him to go to a huddle in the fourth quarter when we were milking the clock."

The game started slowly for the Eagles. C-N went three-and-out on its first possession, the first time this season that C-N failed to score on its first drive.  Mars Hill took advantage with a four-play, 71-yard drive that ended when tailback Jamel Harbison whipped off a 41-yard run up the middle to score. 

Carson-Newman wasted little time in countering.  C-N marched down the field in six plays to finish off a 61-yard possession with a Wimbush eight-yard blast.  C-N scored 21 unanswered in the quarter with a Jerry Miclisse (Homestead, Fla.) 27-yard pick six and a Montavious Taylor 43-yard dive up the middle.

Carson-Newman Football: Jerry Miclisse Recaps Mars Hill 9-24-16
Sep 24, 2016

Senior safety Jerry Miclisse had a pick-six for the Eagles in a 52-27 victory over Mars Hill.

Mars Hill's offense got untracked with 1:28 left in the first.  David Salmon called his own number on a QB draw. He meandered into the end zone from 30 yards out to bring MHU within eight, 21-13. 

The second quarter featured little of the offensive fireworks of the first.  The teams traded punts and a turnover on downs before Carson Wise (Blacksburg, Va.) connected on a 25-yard field goal with 4:23 left in the frame. That put C-N in front 24-13. 

The Lions marched back down the field in 2:30 for Harbison to get into the end zone on a 13-yard sweep play around right tackle.

However, the Eagles showcased their two-minute offense, pounding out a nine-play, 72-yard drive in 1:19 to push the lead back to 10 before halftime with a Taylor one-yard TD plunge over right guard. 

At the start of the second half, the onslaught was on for the Eagles.  Fairell intercepted the first play of the second half and the rout was on.  Suber capped the ensuing possession by trotting in for a 13-yard score in which he flung a Mars Hill defender to the ground like a rag doll on his way to the end zone.

Carson-Newman Football: Austin Lewis Recaps Mars Hill 9-24-16
Sep 24, 2016

The Eagles started three freshman offensive linemen in a 52-27 win as C-N ran a program record 100 plays.

Fairell's next interception set up a Wimbush six-yard TD run, his second of the day.  Then Williams' interception allowed Marcus Williams to take a dive 29-yards for a score.  As the dust settled, the Eagles' found themselves up 52-21 with 3:55 to play in the third.

Mars Hill added a fourth quarter score on a Malik Prescott one-yard TD run to set the final margin at 52-27. 

Fairell became the first Eagle with two interceptions in one game since Eien Jacob had a pair in a win over Newberry during his All-American campaign in 2013.  Miclisse's pick six was C-N's first since Williams brought one back 56 yards to the house against North Greenville last season. 

Carson-Newman returns to action Oct. 1 against Lenoir-Rhyne.  The Eagles will look to stop a four-game skid to the Bears with a 1 p.m. kick. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at noon with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at  

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