Tornados unable to pull upset against SAC-leading Catawba

Box Score

BREVARD, N.C. – Brevard found itself trailing Catawba by just three points late in the third quarter, but a flurry of late scores dashed the Tornados’ hopes for an upset in a 29-7 loss to the South Atlantic Conference leaders on Saturday.

The Catawba Indians (7-2, 4-1 SAC) entered the contest ranked No. 4 in Super Region 2. Of the team’s two losses in 2015, one was an opening-week triumph by then No. 4 West Georgia, which has since ascended to the top spot in the national polls. With its win, the Indians have opened up a half-game lead over second-place Carson-Newman in the SAC standings.

Brevard (0-9, 0-5 SAC) struggled to find any offensive rhythm against a team known for its ability to create turnovers and hold opponents out of the end zone. The Tornados managed a season-low 126 yards of total offense, 75 of which came on a 15-play touchdown drive that took up nearly seven minutes in the second quarter.

Arvin Berry led the Tornados with 42 rushing yards on 11 carries, while freshman Tyler Garland picked up 33 yards, including a 19-yard scamper, in the first significant action of his career. Xavier McEachern punctuated the scoring drive with a one-yard run for his second touchdown of the season.

The outcome was in doubt for much of the first three quarters. Catawba drove 81 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 3:58 remaining in the first quarter, but had several missed opportunities to extend its advantage. The Indians drove 64 yards on their first possession only to see a 34-yard field goal attempt sail wide right.

Catawba appeared primed to score again on its third possession after recovering a fumble on Brevard’s 28-yard line. But the ensuing drive was stifled on a third-down sack by Jinsley Jhon that pushed the Indians back 10 yards and made Chad Hollandsworth’s job much tougher. The right-footed kicker lined up a 43-yard attempt from the right hashmark but again pushed the ball wide to keep the Tornados within a touchdown.

He was true on a 22-yard attempt nearly eight minutes later following a monumental open-field tackling effort by Amir Williams to deny Catawba a first down inside the Tornados’ five. Brevard took the ensuing kickoff and embarked on its sixth touchdown drive of at least 75 yards this season to trim the advantage to a field goal.

The Indians exploded for 19 points over the game’s final 20 minutes, however, running their all-time record against the Tornados to 8-1 in the process. A costly turnover midway through the third quarter opened the floodgates for the visitors. The Tornados faced second and 35 after a penalty and an alert play by Branden Dagley to pounce on a fumble deep in Brevard territory. Craven was sacked on third and 28, but Brevard picked up a first down due to a targeting penalty and subsequent ejection of a Catawba defender.

On the next play, Garland rumbled around the left side of the line for his career-long 19-yard rush, punctuating the effort by making a nimble cut upfield before plowing over a would-be tackler along the Tornados’ sideline. But Mark McDaniel forced a fumble moments later at the Catawba 42, setting up the Indians’ first scoring drive of the second half.

Catawba’s Cary Littlejohn rushed for 152 yards and moved into 10th place on the Indians’ career rushing list. He now needs 97 yards to become the eighth player in Catawba history to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards. David Burgess chipped in 135 yards, giving the Indians two 100-yard rushers for the second straight game. Quarterback Mike Sheehan threw for 73 yards and added 67 yards and three scores on the ground.

Marcus Lunsford tied with three other players, including Brevard’s Mitch Watson and Jason Nieradka, for the game high with nine tackles. He moved from ninth to seventh on Brevard’s NCAA-era tackles list and now has 178 stops in his illustrious Tornados’ career.

Brevard makes its final road trip of the season next Saturday, traveling to Hickory to square off with Lenoir-Rhyne. Kickoff from Moretz Stadium is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

To keep up with all the latest information about the Tornados, “Like” our Brevard College Tornado Athletics Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @BCTornados.

Featured image courtesy of Tommy Moss.

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