College football: Catawba smashed by Bears, 63-21
HICKORY — Catawba’s football team continued to trudge toward the finish line on Saturday.
It was another long day for the Indians (3-7, 2-5 SAC), and this time it was a cold one.
South Atlantic Conference champion Lenoir-Rhyne racked up its 10th straight victory, finished off a perfect league season on Senior Day, and battered Catawba, 63-21.
The Bears, ranked second in the region, owned a 42-0 lead before Catawba got on the scoreboard for the first time late in the second quarter. Catawba’s first eight drives ended with punts or turnovers before Ken Avent III hit Demonte Good for a 17-yard score.
Ranked 17th nationally, Lenoir-Rhyne (10-1, 7-0 SAC) is a lock for a strong seed in the regional playoffs and probably at least one home game.
Catawba still has one game left to play. That will be at home next Saturday afternoon against struggling UNC Pembroke (2-7).
Redshirt freshman quarterback Avent had another promising day for the Indians. He was 12-for-27 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Jourdan Osinskie, playing at less than 100 percent, made four catches for 66 yards.
Catawba managed just 76 net rushing yards. Avent was sacked five times.
Avent ran for a TD and threw scoring passes to Lovelle Williams and Good.
Catawba turned it over three times, twice on fumbles and once when receiver Devonte Tanskley threw an interception on a gadget play.
Linebacker L.J. Melvin led the Catawba defense with 10 tackles and forced a fumble. Chris Thompson intercepted a pass.
Lenoir-Rhyne came into the game ranked seventh in D-II in rushing yards per game and showed why. The Bears exceeded their average. They plowed for 412 yards on 60 carries.
Caine Crews rushed for 129 yards on only 12 carries. Ameen Stevens and Kenny Carter had two rushing TDs each.
L-R QB Grayson Willingham added 170 passing yards for two scores. He has 20 touchdown passes, breaking the L-R single-season record.
The 63 points were the most the Indians have allowed to any opponent in a game during Walker’s six seasons.
It was the most points scored by L-R against Catawba since the Bears won a 75-0 blowout in 1957.
The Bears have scored 50-plus five times and 60-plus three times.
The Division II brackets will be announced at 5 p.m. on Sunday.