VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview
VIDEO: Sha'Heem Stupart Interview
VIDEO: Antonio Wimbush Interview
VIDEO: Derrick Evans Interview
VIDEO: Temoris Coats Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After an early snag, Carson-Newman (1-0) used a dominant first to send first-year head coach Mike Turner to a 48-7 debut victory over Pikeville (0-2) Thursday night at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
The Eagles scored on six straight possessions in the first half en route to a 41-0 halftime lead and a 1-0 start to the Mike Turner era.
The triumph is the second largest margin of victory in a coaching debut for an Eagle head coach. Only Tom Moran's 45-0 win over Mars Hill in 1922 bests Turner's first time under the headset as the Eagles' head man.
"This all goes back to what it's supposed to being about and that's those kids," Turner said. "They had great enthusiasm and they executed. They flew around and got after it tonight. Our assistant coaches did a great job of getting them ready to play."
Carson-Newman sputtered on its first drive. However, after that, the onslaught was on. The Eagles forced Pikeville off the field with four straight three-and-outs while finding paydirt six straight times.
Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) got the party rolling on drive number two by taking a pitch 47 yards around the right tackles for a one-play, 12-second possession and a 6-0 lead following a blocked PAT.
Turner credited his youthful offense for finding its gear after the fitful first drive.
"We're still predominantly a young football team on offense," Turner said. "It's the first game and at times they were a step away on a block, a step away on a read. We've got room to do that. But they still accounted for themselves well."
The Eagles took a 20-0 lead to the second quarter after an 11-yard touchdown traipse by Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) and a seven-yard run for Wimbush.
C-N kept the foot pushed all the way in on the accelerator in the second quarter.
Jared Dillingham (Central, S.C.) joined the touchdown party 55 seconds into the second quarter on a three-yard dive off the center's left hip. Then, Wimbush scored his 23rd career touchdown and broke the 100-yard mark on a three-yard score where he appeared to have been stopped in the backfield.
However, the junior lunged to his right to cap off an 11-play, 86-yard drive in 4:46.
Williams rounded out the first half scoring with a 10-yard run on a counter play to the left side of the line.
While the Eagles offense flexed its muscles, the C-N defense was arguably more impressive. Pikeville wasn't in positive integers for yardage gained until its fifth drive of the game and the first possession of the second quarter.
C-N limited the Bears to negative two yards of offense after the first quarter. By halftime, the Bears had run 13 plays for 49 yards.
"Defensively. Wow. Wasn't that awesome," Turner said. "That's what we're looking for. They got after it and snuffed it down. It's hard to pitch a goose egg in a half in today's college football game. That group believes and taking pride in what they do."
The 41-point halftime margin was Carson-Newman's largest lead at halftime since beating up on Brevard in October of 2009 with a 51-point halftime lead en route to a 77-7 slaughter of the Tornados.
C-N rounded out the scoring with 2:16 in the third quarter when Tyler Thackerson (Clinton, Tenn.) found Quinton Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) along the left side of the end zone behind the Pikeville defense for the final score of the game.
The Bears set the final margin when reserve quarterback Bowen Smith hit Arites Clark with a 15-yard toss with 7:58 left in the fourth quarter, ending C-N's shutout bid. Had Turner maintained the shutout, he would have been the third C-N coach to start his career with one. Moran accomplished it in 1922 against Mars Hill while Frosty Holt drew Appalachian State in a scoreless tie five years later.
C-N also narrowly missed out on its first opening-day shutout since blanking Webber International in 2006 44-0.
Wimbush led the Eagles' offense with 118 yards on 15 carries and three scores. The rushing effort was Wimbush's fourth straight 100-yard game dating back to 2016.
"His explosiveness is something that people can't duplicate in practice," Turner said. "He plays behind his pads, which is a lost art for a running back today. He gets to the line of scrimmage so fast. He cuts the corner so fast. That's what he does. I'm happy for him to have the game he had today."
Quarterback Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) rushed 10 times for 37 yards while Dillingham had 35 yards on nine carries.
All told, 12 different Eagles carried the ball for C-N.
Evans was also effective aerially, going 4-for-6 for 126 yards. He hit Dorren Miller (Roswell, Ga.) twice for 88 yards.
Temoris Coats (Greenwood, S.C.) tallied six tackles to lead a balanced and thorough defensive effort. C-N made six stops behind the line of scrimmage, with eight different players contributing to that tally.
With the victory, Carson-Newman improved to 30-7-1 since 1980 in opening day games.
The Eagles return home on Sept. 9. Saint Augustine's is the foe with a 1 p.m. kickoff. Coverage for the contest starts at noon with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.