Pioneers defeat Brevard on soggy Saturday afternoonOctober 3, 2015
BREVARD, N.C. – In a game played in a driving rainstorm, Brevard entered the fourth quarter trailing visiting Tusculum by just seven points.
But an opportunistic Pioneers squad scored twice more in the final frame to earn a 20-0 victory over the Tornados, the first time since 2007 that a visiting team has emerged victorious in the series between the two institutions.
Brevard’s (0-5, 0-2 SAC) Jason Nieradka had a standout day defensively, totaling a career-high 14 tackles on the afternoon. Much of Nieradka’s work came in run support, with the adverse weather conditions helping limit the nation’s third-best passing offense, which came into the game averaging 383.8 yards per contest, to 20 yards on 2-for-10 through the air. Linebacker Modzelle Atkins also had an outstanding day, totaling 1.5 tackles for loss among his 10 total stops on the day.
With the Pioneers (2-3, 1-2 SAC) forced to abandon their typical pass-heavy attack, running back Isaac Robinson became Tusculum’s primary offensive threat. The sophomore rushed for 250 yards on the afternoon, breaking a school record that had stood since Nov. 18, 1930, when Walter Dette rushed for 245 yards against what is now known as UNC Asheville. Robinson’s record-setting carry came on the Pioneers’ final offensive play, starting to his left and slipping through a hole in the line to scamper into the end zone and increase Tusculum’s lead to 20 points.
Robinson was used heavily on the game’s opening drive, taking handoffs on 10 consecutive plays to drive the Pioneers deep into Brevard territory before the drive stalled. He would eventually carry the ball on 16 of Tusculum’s first 20 plays before resting for most of the second quarter.
Brevard finished with 169 yards of total offense, including a season-high 47 passing yards on two catches by Darius Wade. The Tornados’ offensive numbers were marred by two sacks on the game’s final drive and a disastrous punt attempt on the third quarter’s final play that saw the wet ball slip through the hands of Kevin Weber and trickle back toward the end zone.
Weber did his best to mitigate the damage by running back toward the line of scrimmage, but was eventually brought down at his own 9-yard line for a 22-yard loss. Tusculum set up a third-and-goal from Brevard’s 3-yard line, but Robinson was stood up by Jackson Vause and Mitch Watson short of the goal line. He would get one more attempt on fourth down, however, and found paydirt off the left side of the line to put the Pioneers up 13-0.
Tusculum’s first touchdown also came after the Pioneers took over deep in Brevard territory. With the teams knotted in a scoreless tie early in the second quarter, Tusculum’s D’Andre Johnson recovered a Xavier McEachern fumble at the 16-yard line to set up the Pioneers with the short field. Tusculum drove 16 yards in four plays to take an early seven-point lead.
Both teams struggled to combat the weather, combining for three missed field goals and five turnovers. The Tornados’ defense allowed only one scoring drive of more than 16 yards, but the team was devastated by turnovers near its own goal line and a Tusculum interception on its deepest penetration into Pioneer territory.
Brevard travels to Carson-Newman for another conference showdown on Saturday. Kickoff from Burke-Tarr Stadium in Jefferson City, Tennessee is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Featured image courtesy of Tommy Moss.