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College Football: Catawba hosts Eagles today

  From Carson-Newman sports information

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The matchup between Carson-Newman (2-1, 1-1 South Atlantic Conference) and Catawba (1-2, 0-1 SAC) Saturday at Shuford Stadium features two teams that narrowly missed out on the 2017 NCAA playoffs.

The collision between the Eagles and Indians could be considered an elimination game for the 2018 postseason.  Whoever exits Shuford Stadium following the 1:30 p.m. game Saturday with a loss will likely have their playoff and SAC title hopes on life support.

Both teams enter the contest fresh off a loss.  The Eagles were shut down offensively at Newberry 23-3.  Meanwhile, Mars Hill notched its first win in four tries, taking a 39-33 win over Catawba in the last minute.

 Carson-Newman racked up 333 yards on the ground behind a bruising two-tight end rushing attack en route to a 33-18 win last year over Catawba.  The total yards rushing are also the most that the Eagles have gained on Catawba since Curtis Walker took over the Indians’ program in 2013. The only other time Carson-Newman has rushed for more than 250 yards against a Curtis Walker-coached team was in 2014 when the Eagles put up 313 yards on the ground en route to a 35-33 win over the Indians at Shuford Stadium.

 The Eagles’ offense is both ahead of and behind where it was at this time last year. Through four games last year, Carson-Newman had one game with 250 yards rushing and was averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Through four games this year, Carson-Newman has three games with at least 250 yards rushing and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. However, Carson-Newman’s aerial attack has regressed with the loss of Dorren Miller to the NFL. This year, Carson-Newman has thrown for 271 yards. Last year, the Eagles had 213 alone against Wingate and at least 145 yards through the air in every game to start 2017.

Carson-Newman has had recent success at Catawba’s Shuford Stadium. Carson-Newman has taken four of the last five meetings at Shuford Stadium. However, the Indians do own the most recent win at Shuford Stadium in the series, triumphing 40-20 in 2016.

Catawba has been a mystery  this year.  Over the last three seasons, Catawba has been one of the stingiest defenses in the SAC.

This year, the Indians have given up 208 rushing yards in a 34-3 season-opening loss to West Georgia and 354 yards to Mars Hill in last week’s loss. The Lions’ 602 yards of total offense are the most allowed by a Curtis Walker-coached team.

 Meanwhile, Catawba’s offense has hummed along.  The Indians are averaging 216 yards through the air and have the best pass-catching tight end in the conference in Jourdan Osinskie. He is the Indians’ leading receiver in terms of receptions.  He has 14 catches for 160 yards.

Complementing Osinskie for quarterback Reid Carlton is home-run hitter Will Sweeper.  Sweeper has snagged eight passes for 169 yards and three scores.

 

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