No. 10 Carson-Newman upset 25-22
Carson-Newman Eagles quarterback De’Andre Thomas runs against Catawba on Saturday.
JEFFERSON CITY—Catawba quarterback Danny O’Brien threw for 444 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for another score Saturday afternoon at Burke-Tarr Stadium as the Indians shocked 10th-ranked Carson-Newman, 25-22.
O’Brien fired a 34-yard TD pass to Carlos Tarrats on a third-and-32 play with only 56 seconds to play to provide the winning points.
Overall, O’Brien was 35 of 51 as the Indians upped their overall mark to 3-1 and evened their SAC mark at 1-1.
Coach Ken Sparks’ Eagles still had a chance to tie the game and force overtime, but Curt Duncan, who had already made three field goals in the game, had a 33-yard field goal attempt go wide left with 4.5 seconds left in the game.
Carson-Newman is also 3-1 and 1-1 in the conference after missing out on several opportunities throughout the afternoon. The Eagles struggled to finish, managing just 2 TD’s and 3 FG’s in 7 red zone trips.
O’Brien used 8 different receivers with Tarrats grabbing 9 for 97 and both touchdowns while David Burgess and Nate Clarest caught 7 apiece for 98 and 87 yards respectively.
On the other side, Catawba did a pretty good job against the Eagles vaunted rushing attack, holding C-N to 232 yards on 52 rushes. Quarterback De’Andre Thomas was 9 of 24 in the air for another 154 yards. Tyron Douglas had 113 yards on 22 carries to lead the Eagles who were without All-American Brandon Baker who was out with an injury. Andy Hibbett chipped in 75 yards on 15 carries.
“I didn’t think we practiced well at times this week,” said Sparks, looking for an answer to the loss. “Sometimes, I think we’re victims of our own thinking. We think maybe we’re invincible or maybe we’re to the point of not having to worry about doing some little discipline things.”
He added, “But I’m sure when we watch this we’ll probably be able to write down 50 little things that cost us the ball game. It just seemed like we didn’t want to win it because every time we had a chance to win it or close the door, we didn’t do it. I guess that’s just sorry coaching on my part.
“Now, we have a choice to make in the way we respond to this loss. Hopefully, we’ll have the maturity to respond in a positive way.
“It was very frustrating but I had faith the whole time that we’d find a way to win it and we did find a way…we just didn’t get it done.”
Indeed, the Eagles should have at least gotten to overtime. After Catawba’s winning TD, C-N started at its 26.
A pass interference penalty on the Indians produced one first down and a 37-yard pass from Thomas to Luther Walker had a first down at the Indians’ 22.
An incomplete pass was followed by Douglas’ 6-yard run to the 16. The Eagles took their final time out and threw for the endzone again. Duncan entered for what is normally a chip-shot for the All-American kicker but his kick was wide left.
That was only one of many missed opportunities for Carson-Newman which took the opening kickoff and scored immediately. Aaron Seward made a great 1-hand catch for a 50-yard gain on the first play and Thomas scored on a sneak 6 plays later and Duncan made it 7-0 after just 2:13 of play.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles’ Jonathan Sites pounced on an Indian fumble at the 22. Douglas had runs of 6, 7 and 5 for a second-and-goal at the 4. A pass was incomplete before Douglas gained 2. On fourth-down, Hibbett appeared to score but was ruled down just outside the endzone.
The teams exchanged punts before the visitors started their first scoring drive which used up 11 plays to go 60 yards. The Indians converted 3 straight third downs before O’Brien connected with Tarrats on a 12-yard payoff toss with 1:48 left in the first. Frank Mutter blocked the point after leaving the Eagles up 7-6.
But that didn’t last long as Catawba forced a punt and went 66 yards in 7 plays to grab the lead. O’Brien completed all 4 pass attempts in the drive and scored himself on a 1-yard sneak. Troy Mitchell kicked the PAT to make it 13-7 with 12:17 to go in the half.
The Eagles used 11 running plays to go from their 9 all the way to a third-and-one at the Catawba 14. However, an illegal formation penalty moved the ball back five yards and C-N settled for Duncan’s 34-yard 3-pointer to get within 13-10.
Carson-Newman’s Anthony Baskins intercepted to stop one drive by the Indians and the Eagles took over on downs at their 28 on the next with just 56 seconds on the clock.
Thomas hit passes of 22 to TraShaun Ward, 6 to Douglas and 20 to Luther Walker.
After three straight incompletions, Duncan had a 41-yard attempt partially blocked.
The Eagles forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter and then went from their 49 to a first-and-goal at the 8.
But, a pair of running plays got only a yard and a third-down pass to Hibbett was stopped for a loss of 2 by Jalen Forest. Duncan then booted a 26-yard field goal to knot the score at 13-all with 9:27 left in the third.
C-N took the lead after Eien Jacob came up with another interception and 23-yard return to the Catawba 18. The Eagles got only 5 yards in 3 plays and Duncan knocked through a 30-yarder for a 16-13 lead with 5:35 left in the third.
The Indians got a pick of their own and rolled up 3 first downs before the Eagles Dante’ Thomas got his team’s third interception at the 3 to end the threat early in the final period.
With 4:41 to play, an 18-yard punt return by Terence Williams gave the visitors great field position at the Eagle 36.
O’Brien fired down the sidelines where Quan Rucker made a great leaping catch at the 7.
Burgess scored on the next play but Mitchell missed the point after making it 19-16 with 4:21 left.
Ward gathered in the kickoff at his 7 and took it all the way to the Catawba 12.
Thomas scored on a 1-yard sneak 4 plays later to make it 22-19 for the Eagles. Duncan’s PAT kick hit the upright and bounced back with 2:34 to play.
Catawba started at its 12 after a block-in-the-back penalty on the kickoff. Three passes were off the mark before Bruce Smith made a diving 18-yard catch on fourth down. Next came a 13-yard toss to Clarest before a short pass to Hamilton who turned it into a 45-yard gain to the Eagle 12.
It looked as though the Eagles had it under control again as a holding penalty and an O’Brien pass that was thrown backwards as he was being sacked went out of bounds at the 34. However, he threw a perfect strike to Tarrats who was a couple of steps behind the Eagle defender. Jonathan East-Brown blocked Mitchell’s point after kick setting the stage for the final drive that failed.
-By Derwin Helton, Tribune Sports Writer