Brevard, N.C. - The Tornados struck first as Aaron Reese hooked up with Eric Watts on a five yard touchdown pass, but a Brevard fumble in the third quarter turned the tide as Mars Hill scored 21 unanswered points as the Lions held off the Tornados in Brevard Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, 28-10.
Brevard (1-2, 0-1 SAC) suffered a blow to their rushing attack early in the game as they lost redshirt senior fullback Derek Church to a season-ending leg injury, but still managed to rack up 148 yards on the ground led by Kelvin Jeter’s 68 yards on 12 carries. Senior outside linebacker Prince Simunyu led the defensive efforts in the game for the Tornados with three tackles for a loss and set a BC career record in the process in tackles for loss, breaking Stanley Jones’ record of 23.5 for a career.
The Lions (2-1, 1-0 SAC) did most of their damage through the air, led by quarterback Jon Richt, as the senior went 27-for-37 through the air for 333 yards and two touchdowns, with Dimitri Holmes on the receiving end of many of the targets with 11 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown, while Josh Young added nine catches for 120 yards.
After Brevard went three-and-out on their opening drive, Mars Hill marched down the field, moving the ball 75 yards on 16 plays, using up 5:59 on the clock, before the Tornados defense stiffed up, forcing a fourth-and-goal from the 10 yard line. Michael Pinkerton missed the 27 yard attempt, hooking the ball wide left to leave the game scoreless with 6:50 to go in the first half.
Buoyed by the miss, the BC offense moved the ball down the field as Jeter broke a 39 yard run down to the Mars Hill 23 yard line on the second play of the drive. Six plays later, on third-and-two from the five yard line, Reese targeted Watts just inside the goal line and the duo connected for their second touchdown in as many weeks, giving the Tornados the 7-0 advantage with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
The following Lions possession took advantage of two Brevard defensive pass interference penalties for first downs as they used a quick no-huddle offense to march down the field, moving 67 yards on eight plays, before Richt found Patrick Park on a short out in front of the left end zone pylon and the fullback dove across the goal line, knotting the score up at 7 apiece with 14:03 left in the half.
Another big run, this time by Reese as the quarterback carried for 29 yards and a roughing the punter penalty contributed to the next BC scoring drive as the Tornados advanced the ball to the Mars Hill 24 yard line. However, a two yard carry by Jack Woerner and back-to-back incompletions left the Tornados settling for a 39 yard field goal attempt by reigning SAC Special Teams Player of the Week Austin Clark, and the freshman delivered, booting the ball through the uprights to give BC the 10-7 advantage.
The Lions continued to attack the Tornados through the air on their next possession as Richt went 5-for-6 on the drive for 51 yards, hooking up with three different receivers before finding Holmes in the back of the end zone at the 6:06 mark to give the Lions the 14-10 advantage.
The Lions put together one final drive in the first half, moving the ball to the Brevard 31 yard line, but a quarterback hurry by Richard Ray forced Richt to let go of the ball early and the pass attempt was picked off by C.J. Wilson, as the teams went into the half with Mars Hill up 14-10.
A Brevard College fumble on their first possession in the second half gave the Lions excellent field position at the BC nine yard line, and Jonas Randolph found the end zone for the first of his two rushing touchdowns of the game, carrying the ball in on the first play from scrimmage to give Mars Hill the 21-10 lead.
Mars Hill added one final scoring drive spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter as Randolph capped of an 11 play-83 yard drive with a two yard touchdown carry to give the Lions the 28-10 advantage with 13:46 left in the contest.
Brevard mounted one final drive, moving the ball 62 yards on 13 plays, but the Tornados were stopped on downs at the Mars Hill 16 yard line as Reese’s final pass attempt fell incomplete as the Tornados fell to the Lions, 28-10.
Reese was 6-for-16 through the air for the Tornados for 44 yards and a touchdown, while adding 45 rushing yards. Watts hauled in three passes for 23 yards to lead the BC receivers.
Randolph led all backs in the game with 32 carries for 140 yards and two scores.
Defensively, Rashad Dirton led all players with 17 tackles in the contest, while Darren Walker, Michael Gist, Simunyu and Christian Lumbu all reached double figures in tackles in the contest. Lumbu also added a sack as he pulled within one of Justin Jefferson’s BC sack record, and recorded two quarterback hurries.
Rudy Cabral led the Lions with eight tackles in the contest, while Kevin Johnson contributed seven tackles, with three behind the line of scrimmage and added a sack.
The Tornados take to the road next weekend as they travel to Wingate, N.C. to take on the Wingate University Bulldogs. Kickoff in Irwin Belk Stadium for the September 24th game is set for 1:30 p.m.