• 45°

College Football: Indians strong in second half, record 7th win

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

GAFFNEY, S.C. — Catawba’s football team managed to make head coach Curtis Walker as mad as he’s ever been on Saturday afternoon at Limestone, but all’s well that ends well.

Catawba got 26-for-36 accuracy, 403 passing yards and four touchdowns from QB Patrick O’Brien and three TDs from explosive back Kenyatta Greene, who is emerging as a major force in the South Atlantic Conference.

Catawba regrouped after Walker’s fiery halftime speech shook the walls and won, 45-28. Catawba has a clear path to the Division II playoffs, controls its own destiny with two weeks left in the regular season, but the Indians didn’t resemble a playoff team in the first half.

“Ball-security issues and coverage issues,” Walker said. “In the first half we turned it over three times and we got beat deep twice. We gave them opportunities and we wasted our own opportunities. We didn’t play anywhere close to our standard. I was as angry and frustrated at halftime as I’ve ever been with any team, and I let our guys know that. I’m glad they bonded and came out and played with more focus in the second half.”

The play that summed up Catawba’s first-half frustration was a sweet, 52-yard run by Eamon Smart that somehow ended badly — with a lost fumble a yard from the Limestone goal line.

Catawba’s only touchdown of the first half  came on a Patrick O’Brien pass to Sam Mobley. Mobley set up a deep strike with several short routes, before streaking well behind the Limestone defense for a 74-yard scoring play.

Lee Brackman’s 33-yard field goal in the middle of the second quarter put the Indians up 10-7. But they they fell behind at halftime, 17-10, when Limestone’s towering, 6-foot-7 quarterback D.J. Phillips, who transferred from Marshall, burned the Indians with a deep pass 27 seconds before the break. That breakdown sent Walker to halftime in an unhappy mood.

The good news is Catawba (7-2, 3-2 SAC) was a five-TD steamroller in the second half.  Greene got two TDs through the air and added another on the ground. O’Brien threw a third-quarter scoring pass of 33 yards to veteran Keyon West.

With Catawba leading, 31-20, freshman defensive back Caleb Allen blocked a field-goal attempt.

With Catawba clinging to a 31-28 lead with 7:10 remaining, O’Brien hit Greene for the 32-yard touchdown that provided breathing room and a 10-point lead.

Just 10 seconds after Greene’s third trip to the end zone, Phillips dropped back to throw, looking to answer, and Catawba linebacker Isiah Huffin poured through on a strong pass rush. Huffin drilled Phillips as he was throwing the football. Senior linebacker Trey Evans was in the right place at the right time for the interception and a backbreaking pick-six.

“Trey got the TD, but Huffin made a great play,” Walker said. “That touchdown was the first time I felt a sense of relief, the first time I felt at ease, the first time I knew for sure we were going to get out of there with a win. It was tight until then. Limestone has a good football team and a good quarterback, and for most of the day, we just didn’t play like the way we can.”

Next Saturday afternoon brings a home game with Newberry. The Wolves have struggled some, but they still have the talent that made them the preseason favorite in the SAC.

“We found a lot of ways to hurt ourselves today, and we know we can’t play football like that next week,” Walker said. “We can’t play football like that if we’re going to keep marching toward our goals.”

NOTES: Phillips broke Limestone’s passing yards record against Newberry last week in his first start of the season and broke it again against Catawba with 413 passing yards. He threw 51 times and completed 25. Vyncint Smith had seven catches for 180 yards. … Evans had 10 tackles for the Indians, while Allen had seven. … Omar Staley had two sacks for the Indians. Mobley racked up 132 receiving yards, while Jourdan Osinskie had six catches for 105. … Limestone is 4-5 and 3-3 in the SAC.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time

News

GOP leaders differ on bottom line for state spending

News

Police: Man killed in shootout with officers in Winston-Salem

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras