SAC Football: Catawba 23, Tusculum 21

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

By Jimmy Lewis
GREENEVILLE, Tn. ó Catawba posted its first win of the season, defeating host Tusculum 23-21 in South Atlantic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field. The Catawba Indians improve to 1-3 and level its league mark at 1-1. The Pioneers fall to 1-3 and 0-1.
Tusculum drove inside the Catawba 30 yard line three times in the opening quarter, but led just 3-0 after the frame. The first attempt ended in a fumble caused by Jason Taylor that was recovered by Lakeem Perry. The Pioneers got a 23-yard field goal from Logan Cornelius on its second try, but Cornelius missed from 38 yards later.
The teams traded field goals early in the second quarter. Thomas Trexler converted from 39 yard away to tie the score before Cornelius connected from 33 yards to put Tusculum back up at 6-3. The Pioneer field goal was set up by a 71-yard kickoff return by Deonte Gist.
The Indians got the gameís first touchdown on an ensuing 13-play, 68-drive that culminated in a one-yard run by Jacob Charest. Charest set up the score with a 19-yard toss to Mario Washington on a third-down pass to the goal line. After forcing a punt, Catawba came right back with another score as Bobby Morrison ran in from four-yard out to give the Indians a 17-6 lead which stood at the break.
Tusculum benefitted from a roughing the punter penalty deep in its own territory midway through the third quarter to cut into the deficit. After the penalty, Kyle Dickey led the Pioneers 74 yards in 10 plays to cut the margin to 17-14 after a two-point conversion. Dickey ran in from 10 yards for the score then tossed a pass to Gist for the two points.
An interception by Perry inside the Pioneer red zone set up a Catawba score early in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference. Charest threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Washington with 14:54 remaining for a 23-14 Catawba lead, but the point after was blocked.
Tusculum drove inside the Indians five with less than four minutes left, but the defense held and forced a field try which was blocked by Scottie Floyd with three minutes remaining. Catawba took nearly two minutes off the clock before punting it back to the Pioneers. Tusculum scored with 21 seconds left, but could not manage to recover the onside kick.
Catawba totaled less than 250 yards on offense, but the defense posted seven sacks and held an opponent to negative rushing yards for the second time this season. Josh Wright (Raeford, NC/Hock Co. HS/W. Carolina) ran for 71 yards for the Indians, while Charest went 10-of-16 through the air for 94 yards.