VIDEO: Mike Turner Press Conference
VIDEO: 2016 L-R Highlights
L-R Game Notes
SAC Weekly Report
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (6-3, 4-2 South Atlantic Conference) makes the short trek along I-40 looking to collect its first win in Hickory, N.C. since 2009. The Eagles take on Lenoir-Rhyne (3-5, 2-3 SAC) Saturday at 2 p.m.
Carson-Newman hasn't beat Lenoir-Rhyne since the 2012 season when the Eagles downed the Bears twice, once in the regular season 47-22 and again in the playoffs 38-35. Since then, the series has belonged to the Bears.
L-R has won five consecutive in the series, including two in 2013. Since 1980, Lenoir-Rhyne is the only team to win five straight games over Carson-Newman. L-R is the Eagles' only SAC opponent with a four-game win streak over a modern-era team joining Valdosta State and North Alabama. Those two teams also own lengthy streaks over the Eagles, but those streaks have not occurred in consecutive seasons.
The last team to win six consecutive games against Carson-Newman was Elon, doing so from 1972-78 with a seven-game win streak.
Carson-Newman's last win at Moretz stadium was a 17-13 win in 2009 that featured Carson-Newman's last double-digit fourth quarter comeback. Since then, the Eagles are 2-7 against the Bears.
That followed a series of 31 straight wins for the Eagles, dating from Nov. 3, 1979 to Nov. 6, 2010. That 31-game win streak is the third longest win streak by one team over an opponent in an uninterrupted series. East Stroudsburg has won 37 consecutive games against Cheyney, an active streak, and Shepherd has won 36 against West Virginia State, also an active streak.
The Eagles will be looking to capitalize on momentum from last week's rain-sodden 27-7 win over Tusculum.
"I think you just ask them how was the feeling in that locker room after Tusculum and how was it the week before that," head coach Mike Turner said in reference to the difference between beating TC and losing to North Greenville. "There is a big difference in that feeling in that locker room. We've talked to them since day one of fall camp about finishing strong. We are guaranteed two football games left in this season. We need to finish strong. Our theme this week is purpose, and every day we go to practice we are going at it with a purpose. We are traveling over on Friday afternoon to get into the hotel, to make sure that it is a purposeful visit. We are on a mission and not a sightseeing trip, we are on a mission to go over there and play a good football team in Lenoir-Rhyne."
In week nine, Carson-Newman held Tusculum in negative yardage after halftime. Carson-Newman dropped the Pioneers for negative 10 yards in the third and fourth quarters while racking up a season-high nine tackles for loss.
The Eagles forced the Pioneers into seven three-and-outs, the most Carson-Newman has forced in any one game over the last four seasons, including five of Tusculum's six possessions of the second half. The Pioneers' 36 yards passing are the ninth fewest yards through the air the Eagles' have allowed in program history and the fewest to a non-triple option team (Brevard and Lenoir-Rhyne account for the top eight spots).
Carson-Newman was ranked 10th in the second iteration of the region rankings. The Eagles are on life support, but no doubt still alive.
"That's great, that our kids still have that dream alive," Turner said. "It is great to see Carson-Newman's name in there. It also great for our kids to be playing for something that counts at this time of year. If you are playing football in November and every game counts, that's a pretty special time.
"The most important thing for us this week is to make sure that we are focused on Lenoir-Rhyne. That we are able to play up at our level and that we are aiming to play higher every week as far as play goes. Make sure that we handle the road trip the correct way and come out and be ready to play on Saturday at two o'clock."
At the same time, Carson-Newman will be looking to end a four-quarter streak without a pass completion.
Carson-Newman went 0-for-1 through the air in its 27-7, week nine win over Tusculum. It marks the first game that Carson-Newman has played a game where it hasn't completed a pass since 2011. Strangely enough, that was also against Tusculum. The Eagles racked up 487 yards rushing that year on 82 carries en route to a 35-27 win. The Eagles were 0-for-3 through the air that day.
Sha'Heem Stupart needs four tackles for the Eagles to become the seventh man in program history to hit the 300-tackle plateau for a career. He needs 19 tackles to catch Mike Clowney for sixth on the program's all-time list.
Dorren Miller can begin eyeing the top 10 best receiving seasons in Carson-Newman football history. The senior wideout needs 67 yards to catch Darren Hughes for the 10th most receiving yards in a single season in C-N history. With six TDs, one more would tie him with Tim Gaines, Tank Black and Ques Rumph for the eighth most receiving touchdowns in a single season in C-N football history. Carson-Newman hasn't had a 1000-yard receiver since 1972 (Tim George) and only has three such players in its history.
Nelson Brown leads Lenoir-Rhyne with 845 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, he is the South Atlantic Conference's second-leading rusher.
"I think that he is an elusive young man that finds the gap and finds the hole to run through. They are aggressive up front as far as an offensive line goes, they are a challenge," Turner said. "We think part of our strong point is our front seven and that is going to be a great challenge for them. That is not going to be anybody tricking them there, that is where they are and this is where we are and it is going to be a great football game."
Kickoff between the Eagles and Bears is set for 2 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 1 with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.