Catawba Football Notebook: Terwilliger shows off speed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2008

By Bret Strelow
The Catawba notebook …
Brian Terwilliger showed off blazing speed when he scored touchdowns as a runner and receiver against Tusculum.
John Fitz, Catawba’s assistant head coach, still has footage of one high school play that showcased Terwilliger’s potential.
Fitz was the head coach at New Hanover High School in Wilmington when Terwilliger started at quarterback for the Wildcats.
Fitz remembers a scramble against Mideastern Conference rival Hoggard in which Terwilliger broke eight tackles and gained 75 yards before being tackled shy of the end zone. Video proof remains saved in Fitz’s laptop.
“People got to the point where they wouldn’t even blitz,” Fitz recalled. “They were just screening the line of scrimmage because they didn’t want him to take off every play.”
Terwilliger is taking snaps again for the first time in three years, and he’s emerged as a triple threat for Catawba.
Primarily a wide receiver, he often handles direct snaps out of a single wing package that is regaining popularity at all levels of football. He can run or throw out of that formation.
“I missed being back there,” Terwilliger said. “When I get back there, it’s like I have a whole new confidence.”
Catawba trailed 21-16 at halftime of its win against Tusculum, and Terwilliger’s TDs gave the Indians a 37-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Catawba pulled ahead 30-21 on a 51-yard reception by Terwilliger, and he sprinted 27 yards on a fourth-and-1 play after the Pioneers had pulled within 30-28.
He made four receptions, totaled 27 carries and threw 10 passes in Catawba’s first six games but didn’t reach the end zone.
“I’ve been trying to find ways to get in there,” Terwilliger said. “Usually when I go in the game at quarterback they bring in people all the way to the line of scrimmage and it’s hard to break one. From the run game Saturday, I saw a crease and just hit it as hard as I could.”
Terwilliger played one season at Lenoir-Rhyne and caught two touchdown passes as a freshman in 2006. He decided to transfer after the school fired coach Wayne Hicks and redshirted at Catawba in 2007.
Terwilliger ranks second on the team this season with 200 rushing yards. He’s completed as many passes (five) as he’s caught.
“It was really fun to watch him having fun out there, playing the game and making plays,” Catawba coach Chip Hester said. “Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. If we can get him involved, he’s the kind of guy that’s a home-run hitter.”
HALF THE BATTLE: Catawba’s defense stood out in a 21-14 loss to high-powered Carson-Newman, and the offense enjoyed a breakout performance in the Indians’ 37-35 victory against Tusculum.
Corey Russell threw for 275 first-half yards to help Tusculum take its five-point lead into the break, and Hester’s halftime talk included a reference to his pregame meeting with Carpaccio Owens.
Owens, an 82nd Airborne Division sergeant, was Catawba’s third-leading tackler as a senior in 1997.
Owens gave Hester a camouflage cap before the Indians faced Livingstone last year, and Hester wore the hat during Catawba’s victory.
Owens presented Hester with dog tags before the home game against Tusculum.
“It’s got the 82nd Airborne logo, and on the back it says, ‘We’ve got your back,’ ” Hester said.
“I talked to our guys about that at halftime. I thought that was something they really did. Sometimes you’re going to have mistakes made, and you have to have the other guy’s back. I thought our offense really stepped up, and guys up front really stepped up their pass rush.”
FANTASTIC FOUR: Tusculum coach Frankie DeBusk said Catawba has the best defensive front four he’s seen this season, and Carson-Newman coaches compared the group favorably to North Alabama’s.
Junior defensive tackle Melquan Fair, who weighs 260 pounds, is one of the line leaders. He was named Catawba’s defensive player of the week after recording 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries against Tusculum.
“He’s got the speed of a defensive end, but he’s got the strength of a big 300-pounder,” Hester said. “He’s been a guy that I think has had an all-conference type of year already.”
Freshman long snapper Chad Case was Catawba’s special teams player of the week.
BLOCK PARTY: Running back Jamelle Cuthbertson tied Andre Marshall’s school record by collecting his fourth straight 100-yard game in the win against Tusculum. Marshall accomplished the feat in 1993.
Cuthbertson opened the scoring Saturday with a 63-yard touchdown run, but his teammates swarmed receiver Brandon Bunn after the play.
Bunn wiped out two defenders with a crushing block in front of Catawba’s bench.
“The defensive line, that’s their area down there the furthest toward the end zone,” Hester said. “As soon as he makes that block, they go crazy. No one’s down there talking to Cuthbertson. They’re all around Bunn.”