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Nothing goes right for Catawba in 35-7 SAC loss

It was a replay of the Wingate disaster, although at least the weather was nice at Wingate.

Catawba turned it over five times and fell at Mars Hill 35-7 on Sunday afternoon in a game that was considered a tossup between two middle-of-the-pack SAC teams. The game had been postponed a day due to weather conditions in the mountains.

“We just didn’t take care of the football, and when you turn the ball over, it gives people an opportunity to beat you,” Catawba head coach Curtis Walker said. “It’s extremely disappointing.”

It was sunny on Sunday and snow had been cleared from the field, but temperatures were still in the 30s with 10 mph winds.

Mars Hill (4-4, 3-2) got an astounding 221 rushing yards from Foluke Gordon-Lamar, whose previous high this season was 58 yards. Gordon-Lamar had 202 rushing yards by halftime, mostly because he broke runs of 59 and 67 yards to set up touchdowns.

“We had some misalignments and some key busted assignments on defense,” Walker said. “We gave them an opportunity to make plays — and they did. Mars Hill played very well. Things went their way.”

Mars Hill took a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes, but Catawba tied it late in the first quarter on Mike Sheehan’s 23-yard TD pass to Gary Williams.

Trailing 14-7, Catawba executed a nice drive to the Lions’ 2, but backup QB Reid Carlton fumbled into the end zone when he was hit by Jasper Mason. Trey Clark recovered for the Lions.

That was the turning point. Mars Hill scored again late in the first half with quarterback Matt Layman passing to flanker Dimitri Holmes for a 21-7 lead at the break.

Catawba had its chances to get back into it in the third quarter, but two drives died in the red zone, Catawba got as far as the Mars Hill 2 again, but Sheehan was intercepted in the end zone.

Early in the fourth quarter, Layman had a rushing TD and he found Holmes for another score to seal victory.

Sheehan was 12-for-29 passing for 168 yards and rushed for 66 yards, but he was intercepted four times. Keyon West had four catches for 94 yards, with 50 of those coming on a halfback pass by David Burgess.

Burgess also rushed for 50 yards before leaving with an injury.

Mark McDaniel (South Rowan) was a bright spot with two interceptions. Linebacker Michael Pepper had nine tackles, while lineman Kegan Funderburk had eight stops.

“There were a lot of factors and we didn’t play well in a lot of areas,” Walker said. “But we’ll continue to work. What we really need now is a great week of practice to get back on track.”

The goal that’s still reachable for the 2014 Indians (5-4, 3-3) is a winning season.

Catawba plays North Greenville, a non-conference opponent, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the final game at Shuford Stadium for the seniors.

Catawa will end the season at unbeaten Lenoir-Rhyne on Nov. 15.



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