College Football: Saint. Augustine's 30, Catawba 5
By Mike London
DURHAM — It’s not easy to rush for minus-24 yards and still win easily, but St. Augustine’s showed the world how it’s done on the steamy field turf of Durham County Stadium.
Catawba entered a new season with high hopes, but exited Saturday’s opener with an 0-1 mark. St. Augustine’s picked off four passes and ripped the Indians 30-5.
“We made too many simple mistakes and missed too many assignments,” safety L.J. McCray said. “That let them keep momentum the whole game.”
Catawba’s awful outing merged bad luck (three of those four picks were deflections) with bad timing and bad execution.
“We looked like absolute garbage,” said disappointed Catawba coach Chip Hester, who wasn’t in a sugar-coating mood. “We looked like an inexperienced, bad football team, and that’s not to take away anything from St. Aug’s because they looked good.”
Earlier, St. Aug’s had lost 12-0 to Virginia Union in a farce played with Hurricane Irene swirling. The wind made it impossible for St. Aug’s to pass or punt in that one, but it had 296 aerial yards against Catawba. Backup Teddy Bacote threw three TD passes in the third quarter to turn a 9-3 lead into 30-3.
“We played well upfront, got some fortunate turnovers, and Catawba tried so hard they made mistakes,” St. Aug’s coach Michael Costa said. “It’s not like Catawba isn’t a very good football team. The difference was we’d already played a game, and we knew what we could do. You’ll see a tremendous difference in Catawba in their second game.”
Catawba had six empty possessions before halftime. The Indians tried hard to establish a running game but averaged just 1 yard per rush.
“It looked like some things were there for us, but St. Aug’s was just the more aggressive team,” Catawba running back Josh Wright said quietly. “They wanted it.”
Catawba’s veteran defense was stout in the first half and enabled the Indians to reach the break trailing just 9-0.
Then early in the second half, Catawba had its chance to rally when Damein Lee forced a fumble (he injured starting QB Joaquin Green on the hit) and Tra Ingram recovered at the St. Aug’s 7. But two runs and a hurried pass advanced the ball only to the 4, and Catawba had to settle for Thomas Trexler’s chip-shot field goal that made it 9-3.
“Damein made a great play to get us a turnover, and that’s a situation where the offense has to convert,” Catawba senior receiver Eric Morman said. “When you have to kick a field goal there, that’s really a win for the defense.”
That’s how St. Aug’s saw it. Catawba’s only offensive points coincided with the finest moment for the St. Aug’s defense and was the pivotal sequence in the game.
“What we always preach is stand up on the goal-line,” said St. Aug’s linebacker Shonquez Nelson, whose inspired outing included two picks, two sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. “If you can stand up on the goal-line, you can stand up anywhere.”
After that stand inside the 10. St. Aug’s was suddenly standing up all over the place.
Following Trexler’s field goal, Tyrone Laughinghouse returned the kickoff nearly to midfield, and the Falcons needed just over a minute to push their lead to 16-3.
Then it turned into a circus, with a flurry of three tip-drill picks. St. Aug’s capitalized on two of them with TD passes from Bacote to Jamian Smith and Laughinghouse. Suddenly, it was a 30-3 laugher.
“Our coaches had us in good position, we were getting our hands on some balls, and we were getting so much pressure on the quarterback that he got jitterish,” Nelson said.
Catawba got the only two points of the fourth quarter on a bad snap on a St. Aug’s punt attempt, but that didn’t lift anyone’s spirits very much.
Linebacker Cory Johnson made 11 tackles. McCray had nine and Ingram had eight. Defensive end Jacob Hanes had three stops in the backfield, plus a fumble recovery. Jacob Charest was 26-for-51 passing for 192 yards, but Catawba’s biggest play all day netted a modest 21 yards.
“St. Aug’s forced more turnovers, made more explosive plays and was better on third downs,” Hester said. “We had our opportunities, but we had some breakdowns that were inexcusable.”
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