Mars Hill upends Tornados 37-31

Box Score

BREVARD, N.C. – Despite holding an opponent under 40 points for the first time this season, the Brevard College football team was unable to notch its first win of the 2014 campaign, falling 37-31 to Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference play.

Brevard (0-6, 0-3 SAC) led 28-24 entering the fourth quarter and expanded their lead to a touchdown on a 24-yard field goal by Alex Noboa with 14:52 to play. But Mars Hill (2-3, 2-1 SAC) would take over from that point, tying the score on a 10-yard touchdown run by Foluke Gordon-Lamar less than two minutes later to cap a five-play, 66-yard drive.

The Lions picked up field goals on each of their next two possessions as the Brevard offense was limited to negative seven yards on six plays as Mars Hill forced a pair of three-and-outs. Brevard would drive deep inside Mars Hill territory with under three minutes to play and appeared poised for a go-ahead score, but Mars Hill’s Chris Reeder stripped the ball Jordan Ollis at the 11-yard line and Eliott Polycarpe came out from the pile with the ball for the Lions. Two first downs allowed Mars Hill to bleed the clock and escape with the win.

Mars Hill would finish with 187 of its 505 total yards in the fourth quarter, becoming the second Brevard opponent to top 500 yards this season. The Tornados have now been outgained in 11 straight contests dating back to the matchup with Mars Hill in Brevard a season ago.

Slot back Andre Overholt and quarterback Tanner Wright, both seniors, set new career highs with 135 and 124 rushing yards, respectively. Wright also ripped off a 52-yard fourth quarter run on Brevard’s final drive to set a new career long.

Overholt reached a number of career milestones on Saturday a week after surpassing 2,000 career kick return yards and 1,000 rushing yards in last week’s loss to Lenoir-Rhyne. His 214 all-purpose yards made him the second player in program history to surpass 4,000 yards, joining Kelvin Jeter who reached the milestone three weeks ago in Brevard’s contest with Carson-Newman. He also moved into fourth place on Brevard’s all-time rushing list and needs just 93 yards to surpass Neville Bryce for the third slot. Fellow seniors Jeter and Ollis rank first and second.

Meanwhile, Ollis’s 77 rushing yards on Saturday moved him from fourth to second on Brevard’s all-time single-season rushing list. He now has 842 yards in 2014, trailing only Kelvin Jeter’s 1,145-yard effort in 2010. Saturday marked the first time this season that Ollis hasn’t reached triple digits in rushing yardage.

Despite holding Ollis in check, the Mars Hill defense was gashed for 375 rushing yards by the country’s fourth-most prolific ground attack. Tanner Wright opened the scoring with a 17-yard scoring jaunt in the first quarter to cap a 5-play, 64-yard drive set up by a 35-yard run from Overholt. The Tornados defense held on a fourth down attempt by Mars Hill just outside the red zone, but in a sign of things to come, the ensuing Tornados’ drive ended on a fumble in Lions’ territory. The Lions turned the opportunity into points as Jamel Harbison capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown rush near the end of the quarter. Mars Hill would go on to force two additional fumbles on the afternoon while turning the ball over just once.

The Tornados took a 21-17 lead into the break as Brevard scored on a pair of one-yard rushes in the second quarter. After allowing a Mars Hill touchdown on Harbison’s second score of the game early in the quarter, the Tornados’ defense stiffened to force a three-and-out and a field goal attempt on the Lions’ final drives of the half.

The momentum appeared to swing in Brevard’s favor early in the third quarter. On the first play following the kickoff, Reuben Demosthene stripped Harbison and recovered the fumble to set up a short scoring drive for the Tornados. Mars Hill turned the ball over on downs just outside the Brevard red zone on the ensuing drive, but the Lions’ defense would come up with a stop of their own on fourth down and give possession back to their offense with a short field. The Lions would score a touchdown near the end of the quarter, trimming the Brevard lead to 28-24 and setting up the decisive stretch as the game drew to a close.

Michael Gruber, who entered Saturday’s game in fifth place among active Division II players in career tackles, notched a game-high 15 stops on the afternoon. Glen Hilliard and Jack Woerner pitched in 11 tackles each, while Reese Schlabach had 10 stops to give the Tornados four players in double digits.

Harbison finished the game with 290 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries to pace the Mars Hill offense. Trent Miller contributed 124 yards through the air on 9-of-15 passing.

Brevard will now set its sights on Wingate, which moved to 1-2 in SAC play and 4-2 on the season with a 30-19 win over Catawba today. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. The contest will be televised on WMYA My40, marking the second time in three weeks that Brevard has been featured on the network.

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

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