Tornados reach several milestones in loss to No. 6 Lenoir-Rhyne

Box Score

BREVARD, N.C. – Brevard came up on the short end of a 48-17 decision to No. 6 Lenoir-Rhyne in the second televised home game in school history, but several Tornados shone brightly in the losing effort on Saturday afternoon.

Andre Overholt and Jordan Ollis headlined the game for a stellar group of seniors that continue to rewrite the Brevard (0-5, 0-2 SAC) record books. Overholt entered Saturday’s contest with the second-most kick return yards among active Division II players and surpassed 2,000 career return yards on a 13-yard runback in the first quarter. He would finish the game with 83 return yards, trailing only Millersville’s David Coates among active players.

Overholt reached a second significant milestone late in the game. Needing a three-yard jaunt to surpass 1,000 career rushing yards, Overholt ripped the Bears’ (5-0, 3-0 SAC) defense for a 30-yard gain, making him the sixth Brevard player to reach quadruple digits and vaulted him into fifth place on the Tornados’ all-time rushing list. He needs 170 yards to become just the second player in Brevard history to surpass 4,000 all-purpose yards in a career.

Earlier in the day, Jordan Ollis reached a milestone of his own. On a six-yard rush on his first touch of the third quarter, the senior fullback went over 2,000 career rushing yards. Ollis finished with 129 yards on the day and has now gained 2,107 yards on the ground in his career, the second-highest total in school history.  His 763 rushing yards through the first five games of 2014 rank fourth all-time in a single season at Brevard, and he can move into second place with 38 yards in next week’s contest at Mars Hill.

Linebacker Michael Gruber also had a stellar afternoon. His 19 tackles on the day tied him for second place in a single game, equaling his own mark in a 2012 contest with Carson-Newman. Sam Jones holds the all-time single-game record for his 21-tackle performance in Brevard’s 40-14 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne on September 27, 2008, which marked the Tornados’ first game as members of the South Atlantic Conference.

In a battle between two of the nation’s top tacklers, Gruber came out as the unquestioned winner. Bears’ linebacker Tanner Botts, who entered the contest as Division II’s fourth-leading tackler among active players, recorded just five stops on the afternoon, while the nation’s eighth-leading career tackler in Gruber outperformed his Lenoir-Rhyne counterpart.

Despite being filled with a slew of great individual performances for Brevard, the final outcome tilted heavily in favor of the nation’s sixth-ranked team. Lenoir-Rhyne outgained the Tornados 455-244 and continued a string of six straight opponents topping the 40-point mark dating back to last season.

Lenoir-Rhyne took control of the game early. The Bears entered the half with a 41-0 lead and held the Brevard offense, ranked third in the nation in rushing yards per game, to 11 total yards on 23 plays.  The game’s first drive saw the Bears march 79 yards in nine plays. The offense then needed just six plays to mount a 25-yard scoring drive and take a 13-0 lead moments later after a Brevard fumble.

The Bears then scored two more times after two straight three-and-outs to take a 27-0 lead into the second quarter, racking up 224 yards of total offense through the game’s first 15 minutes. Two second-quarter touchdowns would stretch the lead to six possessions at the half.

The second half, however, was a much different story. Although it ended in a field goal instead of a touchdown, the Tornados set the tone for the final 30 minutes with a 14-play, 64-yard drive to open the second half that ate up over seven minutes of clock.

After forcing a Lenoir-Rhyne three-and-out, Brevard embarked on a 65-yard drive that ended with the 29th touchdown of Ollis’s career, extending his own school record. The key play came on a 17-yard completion over the middle to a leaping Overholt on third-and-seven that put the Tornados into the red zone.

Brevard capped the game with a nine-yard touchdown completion to Kelvin Jeter on a third-down play as the clock wound inside 30 seconds to play. The score capped off a second half in which Brevard outgained the Bears 233-86, forced two punts without a punt of its own, didn’t throw an incompletion, and dominated time of possession by over 10 minutes.

Jason Nieradka had 11 stops for the Tornados’ defense, the second-most of any player in the game other than Gruber. Modzelle Atkins caused his third turnover of the season with a second-quarter interception and a subsequent 17-yard return.

Chris Robinson led a stable of four Bears that tallied at least 35 rushing yards on the day with a team-high 72. Miles Freeman threw for 77 yards and a touchdown while also contributing 63 yards and a score on the ground. Brevard’s Kevin Herbst, who came on in place of an injured Tanner Wright, completed all four of his passes for 38 yards and a score.

The Tornados will look for their first conference win as the team travels to Mars Hill next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Featured image courtesy of Neil Hayes. Click here to view more photos by Neil.

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