VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview
VIDEO: Temoris Coats Interview
VIDEO: Marcus Williams Interview
VIDEO: Jordan Seal Interview
VIDEO: Brian Bembry Interview
SALISBURY, N.C. – In a teeter-totter affair, Carson-Newman (3-2, 2-1 South Atlantic Conference) scored a decisive touchdown from Sherron Jackson (Miami, Fla.) in the first overtime session to take a 33-30 win over Catawba (1-3, 0-2 SAC) Saturday afternoon at Shuford Stadium.
The contest featured six lead changes and one tie before the Eagles held Catawba to a field goal on its opening possession of overtime. Carson-Newman then marched down to the three to set up the game-winning score.
Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) took a dive play down to the 10 on an 11-yard carry. Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) ran a naked quarterback bootleg down to the three to set the table for Jackson. The sophomore ran a trap off right guard and spun into the end zone to provide a heart-stopping 33-30 win for the Eagles.
"What a great example of two football teams going at it, going toe-to-toe," Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner said. "That was a great day. They should charge the people double who were here for this game and not let them out 'till they pay extra. I'm so proud of our kids. They played united. There were times where if they weren't united that one could have got away from us. I was so proud of the way they responded, and man I hope we can learn that that's the way you're supposed to play every time you play."
Five different Eagles found the end zone on the day and Temoris Coats etched his name into the record books for the Eagles' in the victory. The three-time TSWA player of the week notched nine tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and a pick. The 5.5 tackles for loss are the third most in a single game for Carson-Newman in school history.
Coats trails only William Moody, who had six stops behind the line against New Haven in 2002, and Darryl Gooden, who had 7.5 against Howard Payne in 1992.
"He does that, and he plays on about two or three of the special teams," Turner said. "He's a key factor on all of those things, because he's a leader. He's the bell cow over there on defense. And man, it's great to see him rise up, like we've said before. Step in there after Sha'Heem and make plays."
Carson-Newman had great balance to get to 350 yards rushing on the ground, the most for the Eagles this season and the most for Carson-Newman against a Curtis Walker-coached team since he took over as the Indians' head coach in 2013.
Six different ball carriers gained at least 40 yards for the Eagles. Toot Johnson (Rincon, Ga.) led Carson-Newman on the ground with 95 yards on seven carries. Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) added 73 yards on 11 touches. Quarterback Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) and Jackson each chipped in 50 yards, while Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) and Demitri Saulsberry (St. Mary's, Ga.) tallied 44 and 40 yards, respectively.
Even with Coats' efforts, the Eagles gave up chunk yardage on the ground in a game that flipped many scripts. Catawba rushed for 307 yards and had 8.3 yards per carry on the game. The Indians entered the game seventh in the league in rushing before exploding for a season-high in rushing yards against the Eagles. Granted, the majority of that came in the first half.
Catawba's ground game chewed up yards in bulk to get the Indians the lead at the halftime break behind 242 yards on the ground.
Carson-Newman entered the game without a rush of 20 or more yards allowed to a running back. The Eagles gave up three rushes of at least 50 yards alone in the first half.
Kenyatta Green got it started for the Indians on the opening drive of the game. Green hit a cutback lane on his way to 54-yard rush to put Catawba up 7-0 1:59 into the game.
The Eagles countered two possessions later. After a Caleb Berry punt pinned the Eagles at the eight, Carson-Newman put together a meaty 12-play, 91-yard drive that was capped by Demitri Saulsberry's (St. Mary's, Ga.) first touchdown run of the season. Saulsberry took a trap play around left tackle and found open field to spring free for a 27-yard score. However, Catawba blocked the PAT to preserve the lead.
The Indians looked to be in position to retake the lead when they got the ball back with the second lengthy run of the half. On possession number four for the Indians, Demonte Good ripped off a 53-yard run to put Catawba in field goal range. However, Antonio Henderson (Palmetto, Fla.) shot through the middle to block a 33-yard attempt.
Zackury Fuller (Jesup, Ga.) returned the block down to the Catawba 46. The Eagles capitalized on the good field position nine plays later. Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) hit Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) on a 16-yard swing pass that Wimbush turned into his 28th career touchdown.
The Eagles pulled the extra point wide to stay up 12-7 with 6:03 to play in the first half.
It would take Catawba just 48 seconds to counter. Green ripped off the third rush of at least 50 yards in the first half. He evaded a couple tacklers, then won a footrace to take his second score of the day into the end zone from 66 yards out to set the halftime margin at 14-12 in favor of the Indians.
However, the Eagles defense stiffened in the second half. The Indians had just 71 yards on the ground after halftime.
Carson-Newman wasted little time out of the gates to grab the lead. On the third play from scrimmage in the second half, Johnson reeled off a 68-yard run on a dive that put C-N back in front 18-14, 94 seconds into the second half. A successful two-point conversion to Trevor Makarov (Ann Arbor, Mich.) pushed the lead back to six, 20-14.
The Indians countered the next drive. A 51-yard pass to Will Sweeper set the Indians up with first-and-goal from the three. Two plays later, quarterback Reid Carlton ran in on an option keeper with 9:42 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles had missed opportunities to pad the lead. Coats picked off a pass to set the Eagles up with first-and-10 at the Indians 20. The Eagles got backed up thanks to penalties and had to settle for a 49-yard field goal try that Drew Eudy (Hendersonville, N.C.) missed short and to the left.
The Indians added to their lead early in the fourth quarter with a Lee Brackman field goal from 38 yards away.
Carson-Newman wasted little time in retaking the lead. The Eagles used a bruising 10-play, 75-yard possession to get in front. All 10 plays came on the ground and the Eagles converted on two third-and-longs to get there. A Jackson 22-yard draw play pushed the Eagles inside the Catawba 20. Two plays later, Williams squirted through a hole on the left side of the line and into the end zone from seven yards out. Eudy converted the PAT and the Eagles led 27-24 with under eight minutes to play in the fourth.
The teams swapped three-and-outs before Catawba had a go at the game-tying drive. The Indians were aided on a drive-extending pass interference call on a fourth-and-10. However, the Eagles' defense stiffened once the Indians got the ball down to the C-N 24. Brackman converted on a 41-yard boot, a season-long, with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter. That sent the game to overtime shortly thereafter.
The Eagles won the overtime coin toss and chose to play defense.
Catawba got one first down on their possession before its drive stalled out at the 20, aided by a procedure penalty and Coats' record-book etching 5.5 tackle for loss.
Brackman buried his third field goal from 37 yards to go up 30-27.
Four plays later, the Eagles were in the end zone with a walk-off win in hand.
"Well we were going to run the power, because we felt like either formations or motions, that was going to give us the biggest advantage," Turner said. "I was so grateful we held them to a field goal in overtime there. It's an advantage. You win the toss and you go on defense, I mean that's how you play overtime. To hold them to a field goal and then know what you've got to do (go score)—it was a great game. A good win for Carson-Newman."
Catawba outgained the Eagles 439-397, just the third team to outgain a Turner-coached club. The Eagles had been 0-2 when being outgained under Turner.
Green, Good and Sweeper led the Indians on the day. Green and Good became the first duo to rush for 100 yards on the Eagles since 2015. Green finished with 197 yards and two scores. Good had 110 yards. Both players averaged more than 7.0 yards per carry.
Sweeper caught three passes for 101 yards. The rest of Catawba's receiving corps caught five passes for 31 yards.
Quarterback Reid Carlton was 8-for-21 through the air with two picks. Desmond Fairell (Miami, Fla.) grabbed his 10th career pick for the Eagles. Coats' INT was the third in his career.
Catawba linebacker Jeremiah Ferguson led all players with a whopping 18 tackles.
Carson-Newman played turnover free for a second consecutive week.
The Eagles collected their second straight win over the Indians, their first win streak over Catawba since winning five consecutive from 2008-12.
After four of the first five on the road, Carson-Newman doesn't leave the state of Tennessee for the next five weeks. The Eagles play host to Limestone to open October with a 1 p.m. kickoff on the sixth. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at noon on the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.