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College Football: Catawba vs. Brevard today

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

BREVARD (1-7, 0-4 SAC) at CATAWBA (3-5, 3-1 SAC)
Shuford Stadium — Today, 1:30 p.m.
RADIO: WSAT Memories 1280  Video webcast at http://portal.stretchinternet.com/catawba/
COACHES: Brevard — Paul Hamilton has been a college coach 34 years and a head coach for 17.
Hamilton played quarterback at Appalachian State. He graduated from ASU and he also earned a masters degree in secondary education from The Citadel.
Hamilton worked as an assistant coach at The Citadel, East Tennessee State, Wofford and Air Force before being hired as East Tennessee State’s head coach. He was 38-41 there in six seasons from 1997-2003. Then he was 6-16 in two seasons as Elon’s head coach.
Hamilton was hired by Brevard in 2007 and has fought mostly uphill battles since then. Brevard isn’t usually as talented as its SAC opponents, but the Tornados compete and they were a remarkable 7-4 in 2009. Hamilton is 24-82 at Brevard and 1-8 against Catawba.
Catawba — Curtis Walker. Walker is 24-18 and is in his fourth year as head coach. Catawba went 6-5, 6-5 and 9-3 in his first three seasons and still hopes for 6-5 this season. Walker is 3-0 against Brevard.
LAST WEEK: Catawba lost, 41-31, at UNC Pembroke despite producing a flurry of big plays and more than 500 yards of offense. Brevard lost at home, 34-7, to SAC leader Newberry.
SERIES: Catawba leads 8-1. The teams have been SAC opponents since 2007. Catawba won 29-7 in the mountains last year.
WORTH MENTIONING: Catawba obviously has faced a challenging schedule, but fans may not realize just how strong it’s been. Catawba is ranked No. 1 in strength of schedule in all of Division II. Six of the eight teams Catawba has played have winning records, and Newberry, Wingate and UNC Pembroke have one loss each.
The only two teams Catawba has played that don’t have winning records are Carson-Newman and Mars Hill. They’re both 3-5.
Catawba’s strength of schedule rating will slip a lot over the next three weeks as it takes on Brevard, Tusculum (2-6) and Lenoir-Rhyne (2-6).
• Today is homecoming at Shuford Stadium, which provides extra distractions but also extra pride and motivation, especially for the seniors.
• Brevard will be leaving NCAA Division II (and the SAC) and will join the Division III USA South Conference for the 2017-2018 academic year.
• Brevard is often among the national leaders in rushing yards because almost all of its offense is on the ground. But this season the Tornados are only 43rd out of 170 teams. Brevard still throws much less than most college teams (about 12 attempts per game). Brevard’s lone TD last week came on a 72-yard pass play.
• Catawba lost at Brevard in an infamous “mud game” in 2009. While the Indians have won all the other meetings, it hasn’t been easy. It was 17-13 in 2011, 19-13 in 2012, and 42-37 in 2014.
Brevard can control the ball for long periods of time, 4 yards at a time, and that’s the biggest concern. “When you play Brevard you’re not going to get as many possessions as you normally do,” veteran running back David Burgess said. “You’ve got to make each one count.”
WATCH FOR: Quarterback Reid Carlton, who shined at UNC Pembroke, isn’t expected to play today due to a sprained ankle, so Joseph Dress will be at the controls. That means more running plays and fewer pass plays for the Indians.
Who’s the backup, now that Catawba’s third QB is the starter? Maybe receiver Keyon West.
• Catawba doesn’t often lose because the defense faltered, but that was the case last week. Walker expects a bounce-back effort from that unit today. Linebacker Kyle Kitchens has five sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Cornerbacks Case Woodard and Cris Page have combined for seven interceptions.

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