Catawba victory lightens mood

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 19, 2009

By Bret Strelow
Catawba had just ended a month-long losing streak, but the visiting locker room at Tusculum’s Pioneer Field sounded more like a library.
Calvin Hall, a senior, spoke up.
“(Hall) was like, ‘Why is it quiet? We just won.’ ” tight end Grayson Downs said. “Everybody went crazy.”
The Indians picked up their first SAC victory ó and their first win of any kind since Sept. 12 ó in a 41-27 shootout with Tusculum on Saturday.
Catawba (4-3, 1-3) trailed 20-13 at halftime, and Patrick Dennis threw three touchdown passes in the third quarter. The Indians forced three turnovers in the second half and finished with 10 sacks.
Losses to Mars Hill, Newberry and Carson-Newman had Catawba on the verge of its worst start to league play since 1984.
“I think this is probably the most solid game we’ve played,” said Brandon Sutton, who had three sacks. “When you think about it, we were smiling on the sideline. It was the first smiles I’ve seen in a long time, maybe since the Livingstone game.
“It felt good to see everybody smiling again, just having fun.”
Melquan Fair and Arthur Cromartie also had multi-sack performances, and defensive backs Cortez Best and Jaspen Gray intercepted Tusculum quarterback Bo Cordell.
Dennis attempted 29 passes without being sacked, and kicker Thomas Trexler was named the SAC special teams player of the week.
Trexler, who joined Newberry quarterback Brandon Gantt (336 passing yards) and Newberry safety Ron Parker (two interceptions, including a fourth-quarter touchdown return) as a weekly award winner, accounted for 11 points. He made field goals from 39 and 36 yards out in the first half.
The Indians capped drives with touchdowns rather than kicks after halftime. Dennis reached the end zone on a 1-yard sneak with 6:58 remaining, and Trexler closed the scoring with PAT.
“It’s a weight off our back, a weight off our shoulders,” Dennis said.
“We’ve had some good showings, but to have a close game fall our way, it was nice to be on the winning end of that.”