Catawba notebook: Jones quick out of blocks
By Bret Strelow
The Catawba notebook …
Field goals, extra points and punts are more difficult to execute against Catawba because of a former kicker’s recommendation to Terrence Jones.
Jones, a junior from Rockingham, first heard about Catawba from Richmond County High School assistant coach Jason Norton.
Norton was a third-team All-American for the Indians in 1994, when he kicked two 52-yard field goals. He ranks fourth on Catawba’s career list for punting average.
Jones blocked an extra point against Wingate and a punt against Brevard last season. He blocked a field goal with his forearm Saturday in a 14-12 loss to Mars Hill.
Marqus Davis had two blocks in a win at Fayetteville State on Sept. 5, and Jaspen Gray blocked a punt against Livingstone one week later.
“I feel like I’m the premier blocker,” Jones said with a laugh, “so I had to get me one before they ran off with the lead.”
Mars Hill led 14-0 at halftime, and Jonas Randolph rushed for a 54-yard gain on the Lions’ first play of the third quarter. Jones and Gray combined on the tackle, and Mars Hill attempted a 39-yard field goal four snaps later.
Jones rushed off the edge and made the block.
“At first I was real gassed from running the boy down on the long run,” Jones said. “Coming around the end on the block, the end guy just reached out and didn’t show me any respect like I wasn’t going to get there. I just went around the end and hopped his leg.”
Catawba head coach Chip Hester praised Jones for his quickness and assistant John Fitz, who coordinates special teams, for coming up with a clever scheme that freed up Jones to make a play.
“(Jones) has a great 40 time, but I bet his 10 time would be even more impressive,” Hester said. “He’s got great quickness and the important thing to have on special teams, and that’s a passion to play.”
INJURY UPDATE: Junior center Zane Gibson, who suffered a knee injury early in the Livingstone game and sat out against Mars Hill, practiced Monday. He should be able to play Saturday when 21st-ranked Catawba (3-1) welcomes Newberry (2-2) to Shuford Stadium for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
BACK IN ACTION: Running back Levon Curtis, a Western Carolina transfer, made his season debut against Mars Hill and gained 43 yards on eight carries.
“I thought he did some really nice things,” Hester said. “He gave us a good burst of energy, and he’s a great change of pace. I think as the season goes he’s going to be an explosive player for us.”
YOUNG TRIO: Catawba starts two freshmen ó Jumal Rolle and L.J. McCray ó at the cornerback spots. The strong safety is sophomore Kewone Harris, whom teammates call “Contact Kewone.”
“He loves to come in and hit,” Jones said.
Mars Hill rushed for 273 yards against Catawba, and Harris made a team-high 10 tackles. He had seven solo stops.
Harris was an undersized but speedy linebacker as a freshman.
“You just don’t know until you get them in there, and he’s really made a pretty quick transition,” Hester said. “He pulled a hamstring in spring ball and didn’t really get a lot of reps in the spring. He’s probably progressing a little ahead of where we might even thought he would be.”
SEEING RED: Former Catawba assistant Jim Tomsula, the defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, has appeared on television highlights from a 27-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.The Vikings were trailing 24-20 with just over two minutes remaining when Brett Favre appeared to cross the line of scrimmage before completing a 26-yard pass to the 49ers’ 26.
Tomsula rushed up behind head coach Mike Singletary and tugged at the red challenge flag in Singletary’s back pocket.
Singletary did challenge the play, and the ruling was reversed to an illegal forward pass.
“When (Tomsula) was at Catawba, he’s a guy that I trusted completely,” Hester said. “He’s a great guy to bounce things off. He understands the big picture as well as understanding all the details of the game.
“He’s a great football coach. I think, before it’s all over, he’s going to be a head coach in the NFL.”
Minnesota ended that series by committing a turnover on downs, but the Vikings won thanks to Favre’s TD pass with two seconds left.