Catawba downs Brevard in 42-37 thriller

Box Score

SALISBURY, N.C. – A defensive stop gave Brevard an opportunity for a potential game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, but the Catawba defense held the Tornados without a first down on the final drive in the Indians’ 42-37 victory.

The Tornados (0-8, 0-5 SAC) fell behind by two scores early as Catawba (5-3, 3-2 SAC) mounted 10-play touchdown drives on each of its first two possessions, which bookended a three-and-out by the Tornados’ offense, to take a 14-0 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The gritty Tornados fought back to tie the game, however, notching their first score on an 11-yard scamper by Kelvin Jeter late in the first quarter. The Tornados then limited Catawba to five total yards on its next possession, with the biggest defensive highlight coming on a sack by Modzelle Atkins that moved the Indians back 11 yards.

Catawba’s punt was returned to the Indians’ 49-yard line, where Arvin Berry gained three yards on a first down play. Quarterback Tanner Wright then threw a 46-yard strike to Zac Queen to even the score at 14. Queen finished the day with a pair of catches for 97 yards, leaving him three yards shy of the fifth 100-yard receiving day in Brevard’s NCAA era and giving him the most receiving yards since Tydrell Wright’s 125-yard effort against Newberry on November 2, 2013.

The teams would then trade touchdowns before the Indians’ defense limited Brevard to a field goal midway through the third quarter that cut Brevard’s deficit to four points. That field goal would prove costly, however, as all six of Catawba’s scores came via a touchdown, never allowing Brevard to take the lead in the contest.

In the fourth quarter, Brevard appeared to seize momentum as the Tornados again cut Catawba’s lead to four points on a one-yard run by Tanner Wright to cap a 15-play, 65-yard drive with 10:14 to play. Catawba answered on the ensuing kickoff, with Trey Mashore fielding the short kick and weaving through white jerseys until he was finally brought down at the Tornados’ 28-yard line, setting up a short drive for Catawba to stretch its advantage back to 11 points.

Brevard answered with a five-play, 67-yard drive aided by a roughing the punter penalty against Catawba and an immediate 51-yard strike to Queen, the seventh-longest completion in team history. After moving the ball to the three-yard line following a sideline interference penalty on the Indians, Ollis found the goal line on the next play, cutting Catawba’s advantage to 42-37.

The Tornados’ defense stiffened inside the red zone, forcing a Catawba field goal attempt that hit the left upright and fell harmlessly to the turf. Needing to go 80 yards in 1:37 to win the game, the Brevard offense was unable to come up with a first down, allowing Catawba to run out the clock and preserve its tenuous advantage.

Jordan Ollis led the Brevard offense with 125 yards on 24 carries, giving the senior fullback his sixth 100-yard rushing effort of the season. He now has 993 rushing yards this season, leaving him seven yards shy of becoming the second Brevard player to break 1,000 yards in a season and 153 yards from breaking Kelvin Jeter’s all-time single-season record, a mark that has stood since 2010.

Andre Overholt also inched closer to securing his place in the Brevard record books. The senior slot back finished with 20 rushing yards and a score on six carries. He now needs just 36 yards to move into third place on Brevard’s all-time rushing list. The top two spots are occupied by fellow seniors Jeter and Ollis.

Catawba gained 430 yards of total offense on the afternoon, led by two-time AstroTurf SAC Offensive Player of the Week Mike Sheehan. The sophomore signal-caller was a perfect 13-for-13 through the air for 157 yards and two scores, spreading the ball to six different wide receivers. David Burgess and Mashore paced the Indians’ ground game, running for 137 and 120 yards, respectively.

The Tornados return to action in the final conference home game of the year on Saturday, November 1, as Brevard faces off against Newberry. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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