College Football: Catawba 24, Brevard 10
By Mike London
The South Atlantic Conference didn’t suddenly make a rule prohibiting the forward pass, but that seemed to be the case at Shuford Stadium on Saturday.
Catawba beat Brevard 24-10 in a throwback contest in which the teams combined for 69 passing yards. They made Knute Rockne, who popularized passing a football 95 years ago, turn over in his grave several times.
No kidding ó 69 passing yards.
Catawba (5-4, 3-3) completed four tosses on the sun-splashed afternoon, while Brevard’s option-minded Tornados (1-8, 0-6) connected on three. Relatively speaking, Catawba wideout Brandon Bunn, a prep school quarterback who threw a 26-yard TD to Grayson Downs on a reverse, was a one-man aerial circus.
“Not a pretty game, by any means, but we’ll take it,” said Catawba coach Chip Hester, still in an upbeat mood after making a hole-in-one at Crescent Golf Club earlier in the week. “We sent our seniors out with a ‘W’ in their last home game. That’s something we really wanted.”
Members of Catawba’s tiny senior class helped send themselves out on top. Traveling up and down Kirkland Field for the final time, tailback Jamelle Cuthbertson scooted for 156 yards and two TDs, including a sweet, 69-yard breakaway.
“One last time for the Catawba fans,” Cuthbertson said. “We got inspiration from a navy officer (former Indian lineman Ted Klima who’s had several combat tours) who came in and talked to us about always having each other’s back. We had each other’s back today. Every game we’ve won this year that’s how it’s been.”
Senior linebacker and captain Charles McAfee accounted for eight tackles, including a sack. Senior defensive backs Chris Noel, Jasmon Carpenter and Marcus Glenn combined for 11 stops and three breakups.
The senior people felt badly for was Antwan Strong, who has 116 career catches. He didn’t add to his total in yesterday’s run-fest.
Daniel Griffith started and quarterbacked most of the first half. Patrick Dennis relieved him. Both mostly handed off to Cuthbertson.
Catawba (5-4, 3-3) got an early field goal from Thomas Trexler to break the ice.
It was 3-3 late in the first quarter when Cuthbertson hit a seam, made a cut and was off to the races for 69. Brevard had no one who could catch the stocky sprinter and he had his 19th career TD.”We were just a lot bigger than Brevard upfront,” Cuthbertson. “We ran an inside zone play and great blocks formed. After that, I did the easy part.”
Brevard controlled the ball in the first half with frequent 5-yard runs, and it appeared the Indians would settle for a 10-3 lead at the half.
But trickery in the final minute of the half boosted Catawba’s edge. Bunn came around for a handoff deep in the backfield. It looked like a running play, but then the southpaw pulled up to throw.
Brevard’s Shorick Johnson and Chase Waldo appeared in great position to intercept, but Downs, gliding across the field, snatched the ball from their hands, and the big tight end kept going to the end zone.”It was good to see us make a trick play work,” Hester said. “Brandon threw a strike.”
Bunn, a prep school quarterback at Fork Union, couldn’t stop smiling.
“There were two defenders there because Antwan (Strong) was deep and he was coming up thinking I was gonna run,” Bunn said. “But I saw Downs all the way and I led him right into the ball.”
That score provided a cushion, and Catawba’s defense, which got 15 tackles from freshman middle linebacker Lakeem Perry, was never in danger of losing it.
“We love to play option teams,” McAfee said. “That’s something we defend well.”
Catawba special teams made a contribution when Terrence Jones blocked a punt late in the third quarter.
“Maybe we should’ve scored on the block, but the great thing was it put Cutty in position for one more touchdown,” Hester said.
Cuthbertson got his 20th TD on the next snap, scurrying into the end zone from the 11 for a 24-3 advantage.
Catawba ends the season at Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday night against another option team. It’s 14th straight winning season will be at stake.