College Football: Catawba Notebook

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

By Mike London
The Catawba football notebook …
SALISBURY – Catawba’s trip to Newberry was roughly 140 miles, but the return journey after a draining, demoralizing defeat seemed more like 280.
“It was one long, quiet bus ride,” senior cornerback Scottie Floyd said. “I had some good plays, some good tackles, but when the team doesn’t win it brushes off all the good things you did.”
It was not a game Catawba was predicted to win or was supposed to win. Yet the Indians led twice by two touchdowns. They were ahead 28-14 in the middle of the third quarter. But the game swung with a key defensive stop by Newberry and a big pass play, and Catawba wound up losing 35-28.
Had Catawba won, it would’ve been 3-0 overall and tied for first in the SAC at 1-0 and poised for a comeback season. Instead, it’s at the bottom of the league, and Newberry received the 13 voting points in this week’s national Division II poll that probably would’ve gone to Catawba.
“Coach (Bob) Lancaster and I were talking about the game,” Hester said. “If any one of five plays goes differently, the outcome is different. We were so close, but that just makes it that much more frustrating and devastating. It’s a tough pill to swallow and it took me an extra day before I could sleep well.”
Despite the loss, it wasn’t hard to find positives. Freshman quarterback B.J. Sherrill’s day included five picks, but he also had a hand in all four Catawba touchdowns. The defense had its moments. Special teams were a plus.
“We competed very hard against a really talented team,” Hester said. “Our execution could’ve been better, but the effort was definitely there.”
Sherrill was lauded after his fantastic game against Livingstone in his debut and criticized after the Newberry game. That’s the nature of playing quarterback – too much credit for victories and too much blame for losses. It’s still a team game.
Sherrill is banged up some, but no one doubts he’ll play well on Saturday when Tusculum visits.
“B.J. is taking a lot of the blame on himself for the loss,” wideout Jarrid McKinney said. “But it’s not like it was just him, and this team isn’t going to dwell on one loss in a long season.”
Floyd agreed.
“As a veteran, I just told B.J. to keep his head up,” Floyd said. “We’ve still got eight games to go, and it’s like Coach Hester said, we can either go down from the Newberry game or we can go up from it. I’m sure that we will go up.”
Hester has had teams bounce back from tough losses before, so the Indians can follow his lead.
“We can’t let Saturday’s game beat us twice,” he said.•BREAKOUT: McKinney, a wideout from Charlotte Providence, made his first impact on Saturday. His 25-yard TD catch late in the first half gave Catawba a 28-14 lead.
“They had press coverage on me, and I converted the route and broke past the defender,” McKinney explained. “I looked up, and the ball was right there.”
Lancaster, Catawba’s defensive coordinator, was responsible for recruiting McKinney, who didn’t play football until his senior year at Providence.
McKinney redshirted in 2010 at Catawba and sat out 2011 while addressing some academic issues.
“That first college touchdown felt really good,” McKinney said. “I had to wait a long time for it.”
There should be quite a few more in his future.
“Jarrid had some academic adversity and came back from it, and you have to give him a whole lot of credit for that,” Hester said. “He’s long (6-foot-3) and he’s fast and he has a chance to be very productive on the outside.”
McKinney had five catches for 51 yards on Saturday and also blocked well. He was named the team’s offensive player of the week.
As far as the unusual spelling of his first name, McKinney showed at Tuesday’s press conference at Ryan’s that he has a sense of humor.
“I don’t know what my mom was thinking,” he said.•FRESHMAN FOOT: True freshman Chad Hollandsworth is the most important member of Catawba’s kicking game and was named the team’s special teams player of the week.
Hollandsworth kicks off, boots PATs and field goals, and also punts.
That’s a busy job description that some previous Catawba teams split among three players.
“It is a lot to put on a freshman, but he’s a very mature freshman,” Hester said. “He even stuck his nose in there and made a tackle.”
An East Forsyth product, Hollandsworth proved he had what it takes to be a college kicker when he booted a late 40-yard field goal to give East Forsyth a lead against Mount Tabor.
“That was the most clutch field goal I had in high school,” he said. “The biggest adjustment to college this year has been getting quicker with my steps because it’s a lot quicker game.”
So far, so good.
Hollandsworth is 1-for-1 on field goals and 17-for-17 on PATs.
His 17 punts have had nice hang-time and have traveled for a respectable 36.5 yard average.
“My kickoffs are what I was happiest with on Saturday,’ Hollandsworth said. “They bobbled two of them and we recovered one.”•EXPLOSIVE: Tight end Tyler Hamilton (6-3, 230) caught two touchdown passes for the Indians on Saturday.
“He has a tight end’s size, but a wideout’s speed,” Hester said of the imposing Hamilton. “He has a chance to cause a lot of trouble for defenses. He’s also starting to figure out he can be a pretty good blocker.”
Hamilton shares tight end duties with Vincent Beam.•INJURY REPORT: Catawba right tackle Corey Raven is out with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Tim Buck is expected to start at that spot on Saturday.•GREAT SCOTTIE: Floyd, the team’s defensive player of the week, suffered a traumatic knee injury in the UNC Pembroke game last October. He broke a kneecap and missed the rest of the season.
“I was a long time coming back – two months in a cast and another month in a stabilizer,” Floyd said. “It’s a blessing to be back with my teammates.”
Floyd’s return to the secondary has provided a huge lift. He has a fumble recovery, two breakups and he leads the team in solo tackles with 15.
“We’ve got some high-profile guys in the secondary (stars Jumal Rolle and L.J. McCray), so Scottie gets overlooked,” Hester said. “But he’s looked great. He’s a really physical corner and he’s making big hits and big stops.”•NEXT: Catawba entertains high-powered SAC foe Tusculum and national total offense leader Bo Cordell on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Cordell was at the helm for the Pioneers in 2010 when Tusculum won 54-44 at Shuford Stadium. He was injured last year when Catawba won 23-21 on the road.
Tusculum leads the SAC in passing yards (411.3 per game) and Catawba is last in pass defense, so Catawba’s defense faces a stiff challenge.
“They’ll throw it 50 times, but as a defensive back this is the kind of games you live for,” Floyd said.
The other side of the coin is Catawba is allowing a league-best 38.3 yards per game against the run, so opponents have had to throw to move the ball.