Newberry defense shines in 34-14 win over Brevard

Box Score

BREVARD, N.C. – Senior slot back Kelvin Jeter had the fifth-best day of his career in a Brevard uniform on Saturday, but it was not enough to lift the Tornados past visiting Newberry as the Wolves used 34 unanswered points to earn a 34-14 win on a chilly afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Jeter’s 140 yards rushing marked the fifth-highest rushing total of his illustrious career as a Tornado and his second-most yards in a single game this season behind his 162-yard effort against Carson-Newman on September 20. Jeter became the first-ever Tornado to surpass 4,500 all-purpose yards and the second to reach 20 rushing touchdowns in a career on Saturday.

The Tornados (0-9, 0-6 SAC) were unable to get solid production from anyone outside of Jeter, however, as Brevard managed just 246 yards of total offense while surrendering 459 to a Wolves (4-5, 2-4 SAC) team that was averaging 319.6 yards per contest and hadn’t surpassed 250 offensive yards since a 33-10 win over Wingate on October 4. Brevard’s 246 rushing yards and total yards were its second-lowest totals of the season, albeit coming against a defense that entered Saturday ranked 11th in the nation with 290.1 yards given up per game.

Brevard, which scored touchdowns in the first quarter on a one-yard bruising run by Jordan Ollis and a six-yard Jeter scamper in the game’s final two minutes, failed to complete a pass for the first time since a 35-17 loss to Carson-Newman on October 2, 2010, a game that represents the third-highest rushing total of Jeter’s career.

The contest was marred by eight turnovers, which included a stretch of four consecutive drives spanning the first and second quarters that ended in defensive takeaways. Brevard’s defense, which came into the game ranked last in the nation in turnovers forced, netted takeaways on each of Newberry’s first three drives. Michael Gruber forced a Dureal Elmore fumble just outside the Wolves’ red zone on Newberry’s second offensive snap that Jackson Vause dove on, leading to Brevard’s first points and an early 7-0 lead.

Jeremy Chandler would intercept a tipped Raleigh Yeldell pass on Newberry’s next drive, but the Wolves responded with a forced fumble one play after a 21-yard scamper by Jeter to snuff out a potential scoring drive. After Gruber picked up a fumbled forced by Marcus Lunsford to give possession back to the Tornados, Newberry ended the string of stellar defensive play with a strip of quarterback Kevin Herbst at midfield that gave the Wolves a decided edge in field position.

Big plays would be the Tornados’ enemy in the second quarter as Newberry built a 14-7 halftime lead behind a 27-yard run by Romelo Doctor and a 54-yard catch-and-run by Ozzie Exume on his only reception of the afternoon. Exume ended the day as Newberry’s leading receiver, while Doctor and Elmore teamed up to give Newberry two 100-yard rushers as the duo went for 103 and 127 yards, respectively.

Brevard appeared poised to seize momentum from Newberry and even the score early in the second half. Newberry drove deep inside Brevard territory but went backward on a first down play from the Tornados 25-yard line. On second and 13, the Brevard defense forced its fourth turnover of the day and gave the ball back to the offense at the Newberry 38. Brevard drove 31 yards in nine plays, but threw downfield on fourth and two from the Wolves’ 31-yard line to end the scoring threat. Newberry scored on the ensuing possession to go up 20-7, then embarked on a seven-play, 70-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter to push its lead to three touchdowns.

Although Jeter was the lone bright spot for the Brevard offense, several Tornados shone on the defensive side of the ball. Marcus Lunsford had a game-high 13 tackles, including eight solo stops. Modzelle Atkins counted a sack among his two tackles for loss. Gruber had half of a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery on the day to go along with his 12 tackles, while Reese Schlabach matched Gruber’s tackling numbers and returned a fumble for 16 yards. Larry Cann III, Chris Hamrick, and Dale Huffman also recorded tackles for loss.

Brevard will wrap up South Atlantic Conference play with its first-ever Thursday night game next week in Greeneville, Tennessee against Tusculum. Kickoff between the Tornados and Pioneers is set for 7:00 p.m.

Featured image courtesy of Jane Ollis.

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