VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview
VIDEO: Dorren Miller Interview
VIDEO: Jordan Pryce Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-2, 0-2 South Atlantic Conference) faltered in the second half for a second straight week as Newberry (2-2, 1-0 South Atlantic Conference) rallied from a 10-point deficit to take a 25-21 win over the Eagles in the final minute at Burke-Tarr Stadium Saturday.
The loss gives Newberry back-to-back wins over Carson-Newman for just the sixth time in series history. C-N falls to 0-2 in conference play for just the second time in the 43-year history of the SAC.
"I must not be doing a good job at halftime," C-N head coach Mike Turner said. "We made two mistakes that were worth two touchdowns. We could not maintain a drive in the second half to keep rolling. We would have a penalty called. We have to make plays. Nobody hurts worse after a loss than me. I hate to see them give that kind of effort and not come out on top."
For the first time in ages, Carson-Newman the toss and actually deferred to the second half. Newberry took the football, converted on a trio of lengthy third downs and found the end zone on a 12-yard crossing pattern to push Newberry to a 7-0 lead with 10:02 left in the first quarter.
Following a trio of punts, Carson-Newman broke through thanks to a turnover. Mario Mezier (Miami, Fla.) picked off Nick Jones at the Wolves' 24 to set up a short field.
C-N took advantage with a six-play possession. Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) sneaked into the end zone with a yard leap over the pile to even the score.
Newberry countered the next possession with a 7-play, 65-yard drive. Shea Rogers capped it with a 39-yard field goal to give Newberry the lead back with 12:45 left in the second quarter.
The remainder of the period belonged to C-N. Demitri Saulsberry (St. Mary's, Ga.) ripped a 39-yard score, the longest run of his career, by tight roping along the left sideline to put C-N in front following an 87-yard possession, the longest of the season for C-N.
The Eagles then forced a Newberry punt, and faced another lengthy field. Nine plays and 85 yards later, the Eagles punched it into the end zone with 21 seconds left in the half. Evans free-lanced a two-yard run to the right pylon to give C-N a 21-10 lead at the break.
However, for a second straight week, the Eagles' faltered out of the halftime locker room. C-N put together a quality looking opening possession. Driving down just outside the Newberry red zone.
Evans then hit Dorren Miller (Roswell, Ga.) on a slant. Miller sprinted between the hashes with the goal line in sight. However, Newberry linebacker Rameak Smith stripped Miller two yards shy of the goal line. Joe Blue recovered the fumble in the end zone for the Wolves to take six off the board from the Eagles.
A mere 10 plays and 59 yards later, Newberry kicker Shea Rogers booted a 38-yard field goal through the uprights to pull the Wolves within eight.
Newberry then proved opportunistic on the ensuing kickoff. Chris Williams (Miami, Fla.) got stripped on his first career return. Manny McCord recovered the ball for the Wolves at the one-yardline and a play later, Austin Barnes plunged into the endzone to bring the Wolves within two.
Newberry elected to go for two, but a Greg Ruff rush attempt failed with Jarvis Green (Oviedo, Fla.) spinning the Newberry QB back at the line of scrimmage.
"The defense did a great job," Turner said. "They settled down after the first drive of the first quarter. We were in the driver's seat and had an opportunity to put it away."
With a lead in hand, C-N still couldn't get anything going offensively, the Eagles went three-and-out on their next two possessions while the defense kept the Wolves at bay. Desmond Fairell (Miami, Fla.) ended one possession with his fifth career pick.
The Wolves finally broke through in the fourth quarter. Newberry retook the lead with 38 seconds left following a six-play, 64-yard drive. Jones hit Castle for his second touchdown of the day with a 30-yard connection.
The Eagles nearly got back on top. Evans feathered a deep ball down the right sideline with 12 seconds left that went six inches outside of Quinton Phillips hands for an incompletion down at the Newberry five. Had Phillips hauled it in, the Eagles would have had a touchdown and the win.
"We have a choice in life," Turner said. "You can either wallow in your disappointment, or get better and make corrections to be get right next week. Hopefully, we can take this and work toward that plan. This is two week's in a row that we felt like we played well enough to win a football game, but made a few mistakes and didn't get it done. We just have to be God honoring in what we do. That way we can be more capable of handling adversity."
"I think anytime you take out your top three playmakers (Lonnie Williams, out with eligibility issues, is the third) on offense, it's going to have an effect," Turner said. "We don't have the explosiveness that we had with those three. But it's not for a lack of effort or excitement. It's a matter of youth and inexperience. They're using what they've got."
Jared Dillingham (Central, S.C.) led C-N with 75 yards on 17 carries. South Alabama transfer Diantae Thomas (Dothan, Ala.) had 64 yards on the same number of touches. Saulsberry provided the biggest spark with 45 yards and the score. His 39-yard run was the Eagles' only run of the day that went for more than 15 yards.
Miller came within three yards of a third straight 100-yard game. He snared six passes for 97 yards. Evans was 11-for-20 for 168 yards passing.
Sha'Heem Stupart led C-N defensively. The senior tallied his second 10-tackle performance of the season and the ninth of his career. Ross Pryor added nine tackles. Mezier, Fairell and Darius Williams (St. Petersburg, Fla.) all had interceptions. It was C-N's first three-pick day since a win over Mars Hill last season.
Newberry got 228 yards on 14-of-30 passing from quarterback Nick Jones. He also rushed for 60 yards. Castle was his top target. He turned in his second career 100-yard performance against the Eagles catching six passes for two scores.
The Wolves gained 372 yards on the Eagles, marking the first time this season that C-N's defense allowed more than 300 yards of total offense. The three-game stretch with less than 300-yards allowed was just the fifth since the year 2000.
The Eagles are back at home to close out the month of September. C-N welcomes top-25 Catawba to The Creek for a 1 p.m. kickoff on the 30th. Coverage of the game begins at noon on the Eagle Sports Network on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.