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College football: Indians lose 8th straight

Staff report

WISE, Va. — Catawba’s football team matched UVa-Wise’s level of desperation on Saturday afternoon, but the Highland Cavaliers had the extra emotion of Senior Day and beat the Indians, 21-14.

It was the first South Atlantic Conference victory for UVa-Wise, a new league member which was playing at the NAIA level not long ago.

UVa-Wise (2-8, 1-7) halted an eight-game slide and won for the first time since Sept. 7.

This was UVa-Wise’s first SAC triumph in any sport, not just football.

Catawba (1-9, 0-7) dropped its eighth straight outing since a victory at Winston-Salem State on Sept. 14. The Indians, who will close the books at home against nationally ranked Lenoir-Rhyne, will lose 10 games in a season for the first time unless they shock the Bears — and the world — next Saturday. That game will be the 1,000th in the program’s long, proud history.

Crushed by injuries all season, Catawba had another Saturday in which it had to experiment with a lot of new faces and just couldn’t put it all together. The defense turned in one of its stronger outings, but the offense struggled.

Catawba managed just 197 yards of offense, posted some brutal rushing numbers (34 attempts, 23 yards), and turned the ball over three times with two interceptions and a lost fumble.

Down 7-0, Catawba gathered some momentum by scoring late in the first half. Linebacker Jeremiah Ferguson set up that score with an interception and a 34-yard return to the UVa-Wise 7. Receiver Roman White scored a rushing TD 26 seconds before the break, and the Indians were in a 7-all tie.

Early in the third quarter, Catawba overcame second-and-22 (after a holding penalty) with a 24-yard pass from Wade to back Andrew Bynum that moved the ball to the UVa-Wise 12.

Then true freshman QB Kaylon Wade threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Dominic Burnam for a 14-7 Catawba lead with 9:33 left in the third quarter.

UVa-Wise pulled even again at 14-all four minutes later, on freshman QB Lendon Redwine’s touchdown pass to Jamal Fisher.

The turning point came when Wade was sacked and lost a fumble at the Catawba 15.

Three running plays later, the Highland Cavaliers scored the go-ahead TD that proved decisive. Mykael Anderson got the touchdown from the 9 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.

There was still a lot of time left at that point, but  Catawba couldn’t score on its last three possessions. The Indians punted late in the third quarter. Wade was intercepted to end Catawba’s first drive of the fourth quarter.

Catawba’s last possession began at the Catawba 20, and the Indians, hurrying on offense, converted three third downs, two on completions by Wade, to advance to the UVa-Wise 20-yard line.

On third-and-7 at the UVa 20, with 30 seconds left, Burnam couldn’t hold on to a pass from Wade. Wade threw incomplete on fourth down, and the Highland Cavaliers were winers.

Ferguson made 10 tackles.  Trey Murray made an interception. Caleb Allen broke up four passes. Catawba defenders, many of them youngsters, combined for nine tackles for loss.

UVa-Wise finishes with a road game at UNC Pembroke, which had a hard-fought loss at Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday.

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