Special teams give boost, Eagles soar past Catawba

Carson-Newman quarterback Derrick Evans carries the ball Saturday against Catawba at Burke-Tarr Stadium in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY — Carson-Newman Coach Mike Turner said earlier in the week it was time his special teams got involved in the scoring, and the Eagles made it seem as if he had seen into the future with their performance Saturday afternoon at Burke-Tarr Stadium.

C-N had three special teams touchdowns in the second half on their way to a 59-14 rout of Catawba before a crowd of 1,803 on the first Saturday that was even close to being football weather.

It was the fourth win against a single loss for Turner’s club and put them at 2-1 in South Atlantic Conference action going into next week’s showdown at Lenoir-Rhyne.

Catawba fell to 1-5 overall and is now 0-3 in league play after the pounding.

Marcus Williams hauled the second-half kickoff back 95 yards for the second touchdown return of his career and track star Devon Moore took one 93 yards in the final quarter.

The third special teams score came when Ryan Randall blocked a punt, and Caleb Goins recovered it in the endzone.

Ironically, one of the Catawba touchdowns came on an attempted punt when a fumbled snap was scooped up by Kobe Brance who took the ball 22 yards to paydirt.

The Eagles were quite impressive on both sides of the football as well. Offensively, they rang up 357 yards rushing and completed 5-of-9 passes for another 119 yards.

Quarterback Derrick Evans led the attack as he rambled for 151 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. The Eagles had two other quarterbacks score a TD as Tyler Thackerson ran three-yards for six points and Micah Young tallied from seven yards out.

Antonio Wimbush added 90 yards on eight carries for the Eagles and Evans completed 2-of-5 passes for 80 yards.

Catawba didn’t have much success with the first two Eagle defensive teams before getting a 75-yard TD run by Demonte Good and racking up 96 of its 184 rushing yards against the reserves. The Indians managed to complete just 10-of-26 passes for 87 yards.

After his team had its third straight win by at least 35 points, Turner said, “I think today was due a lot to the success we’ve had in the last two weeks. Our kids continue to get better and to show improvement.

“We’re also becoming more physical,” he added. “I was excited for them to get turnovers today. We talked this week that it was time for our special teams to score and we certainly did that today.”

Turner stated, “Our kids are excited about where they’re at right now. But we’ve got tons of improvement to do and anybody that saw the game today knows that.

“We’ve got to tighten up some things and maybe focus a little better,” Turner remarked. “But to be where we are at the midway point of our season is very exciting.”

The Eagles did have some problems. They turned the ball over twice and were also flagged 9 times for 112 yards. “Those are the kind of things that can get you beat on most Saturdays and we’ve got to do a much better job there.

Those things can kill a team, but when your team is lighting up the scoreboard the way Carson-Newman has in the last three weeks, it’s probably a little easier for a coach to swallow. The Eagles have scored 42, 69 and now 59 in three straight home wins.

C-N’s Damarkus Jones picked off a pass on the third play from scrimmage, but a fumble on an option pitch turned the ball right back to the Indians at their 26. After a punt, the Eagles struck like lightning.

Wimbush scooted 39 yards on the first play and Evans ran the option to the right side, faked a pitch and went 42 yards on the next. Two plays later Demitri Saulsbury scored from the one and Nate Craft nailed the first of his eight extra points with 7:55 left in the first quarter.

The teams exchanged punts and then the Indians turned the ball over on downs at the Eagle 35. Carson-Newman got a first down, but a deep pass over the middle was intercepted by Catawba’s Cris Page at the Indians’ seven.

After a 54-yard punt, Evans tossed a short pass to Romain Kelly who turned it into a 56-yard gain to the 11. Wimbush scored from four yards out three plays later, and Craft made it 14-0 with 8:59 remaining in the half.

Andrew Bynum broke loose for a 72-yard run to the C-N three on the first play after Craft kicked off into the endzone again but it was called back by a holding penalty. The Indians got a first down on a pass interference call but had to punt.

The home team sailed 82 yards in four plays. On the third play, Troy Dendy took a screen pass for 27 yards and then Evans turned in a great run for a 52-yard TD. He ran the option left, cut up the field and then cut back against the grain. He turned the corner and outran everyone.

Williams’ return took 13 seconds off the second half clock as the lead quickly grew to 28-0. The Indians got a couple of first downs but Clayton Crile missed a 50-yard field goal just wide to the right.

Evans broke a 55-yard run and Craft wound up kicking a 29-yard field goal to make it 31-0 with 8:16 left in the third.

Later in the quarter, C-N was punting when the snap was dropped and Branch got his TD. Crile converted.

With Thackerson at quarterback, the Eagles responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive with Thackerson scoring with 13:39 remaining in the game. The next points came on the blocked punt with 11:43 to go and it was 45-7.

Young entered on the next possession and took the Eagles 60 yards in 11 plays, scoring himself.

On the first play after the kickoff, Good, who finished with 124 yards on 17 carries, sprinted to his long touchdown but when the Indians kicked off, Moore took the kickoff, turned the corner and turned on the jets for the final TD of the day. Craft closed the scoring.