Brevard, N.C. - A 38-yard run off a play-fake by Michael Crumbaker and an electric 74-yard sprint by Justin Fleming gave the Tornados their third win of the season as Brevard ran past the visiting Chowan Hawks in Brevard’s 2009 Home Opener, 27-24.
Brevard churned out 375 yards on the ground on 57 carries, with fullback Neville Bryce handling most of the duties, carrying the ball 28 times for 128 yards, with a pair of touchdowns. Fleming, with his 74-yard carry, finished for the day with 110 yards on two carries, becoming the third Tornado to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground this season, along with Bryce and Crumbaker.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Tornados, Stanley Jones wreaked havoc on the Hawks’ offense, recording 16 tackles, three for loss with two going for sacks as the Tornados harassed Hawks’ quarterback C.J. Westler, dropping him to the ground nine times of 39 yards. Michael Gist recorded his first inception of the season to go with three tackles. Justin Jefferson and Richard Ray both had standout games from the trenches, with Jefferson recording eight tackles and 3.5 sacks, while Ray had five tackles and 2.5 sacks.
When Westler did have time to set up and throw, he went 16-25 for 263 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Robert Holland who had a game-high eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground Brian Davis had 66 yards on 12 carries to lead the Hawks.
Greg Palmer led the Hawks’ defense, which often had 10 players in the box attempting to stop the Tornados rushing attack, with 18 tackles and recovered a fumble. Jeremy Bednarz-Gray had 14 tackles in support.
Lawrence Martin electrified the home crowd on the opening kickoff, returning the ball 53 yards to give the Tornados excellent starting field position. However, Brevard was unable to take advantage of the situation as two plays into the drive, Bednarz-Gray stripped Bryce as the Hawks recovered the fumble, neutralizing the opening threat.
After the BC defense stopped Chowan’s opening possession, the Tornados started to move the ball, grinding yards up the middle with Bryce. The junior fullback carried the ball seven times on the 12-play drive, capping it off by going in untouched from 11 yards out to put Brevard up 7-0.
Chowan came back on the next drive as Westler took to the skies, completing four passes for 58 yards, with the final ball going to Holland for 14 yards to put the Hawks on the board. However, Brevard retained the lead as Cory Cline’s extra-point attempt went wide right.
The Tornados fumbled the ball on the next possession as a miscommunication between Crumbaker and Bryce resulted in a turnover as Palmer fell on loose ball on the Tornados 19-yard line to set up Westler and the Hawks offense with a chance to take the lead.
A penalty and a nine-yard sack by Jefferson ended the drive for naught as the Tornados forced the Hawks to attempt a 45-yard field goal, which was pushed to the right as Brevard retained the 7-6 lead.
A three-and-out gave the ball back to Chowan on their 45. The Hawks moved the ball up the field on the Brevard defense, before the Tornados stiffened up, only allowing a 23-yard field goal by Cline as Chowan gained their first lead of the game at 9-7.
Another punt by Tornados sophomore Eric Watts gave Chowan the ball at their 31-yard line with 4:10 left in the first half. Richard Ray took control of the possession from the BC defensive line, sacking Westler on both first and second down, before pressuring Westler to throw a pass which was picked off by Gist to give Brevard the ball at the Hawks’ 24 yard line.
Three plays later, Bryce flipped his way into the end zone to give the Tornados a 14-9 lead with 1:31 left in the first half.
Chowan refused to quit on the half as J.J. Spates returned Chase Henry’s kickoff 56 yards to give the Hawks the ball at the BC 35. two plays later, Westler found a wide-open Kevin Hodrick in the end zone. Holland took the two-point conversion over the line as well as Chowan went into the locker room with a 17-14 half time lead, the first time this season the Tornados did not go into the break with the advantage.
Chowan received the kick in the second half, and drove the ball up the field, moving it up to the Brevard 25-yard line. The BC defense stood tall though, as Jefferson and Prince Simunyu combined for a sack and Jones and Brandon Rawls combined for a sack on the next play, forcing the Hawks out of field goal range.
On Brevard’s following possession, Bryce again pounded the ball up the middle, before Crumbaker, faking a pitch to slot Richard Bush, found open ground and sprinted for 38 yards and the go-ahead touchdown, giving Brevard a 20-17 lead after Henry’s kick went wide right.
After a Hawks’ three-and-out, Fleming broke through a hole in the middle of the line on third-down from the Tornados 26, weaving through defenders and putting on the afterburners, going 74 yards to give the Tornados a 10-point cushion as Brevard went up 27-17 with one quarter left to play.
Westler connected with Holland for the receiver’s second touchdown of the day, with a 16-yard strike over the middle with 9:49 left on the clock to cut the lead back within three at 27-24.
Chowan had two more chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but sacks by Jones and Jefferson and an intentional grounding call on Westler ended the Hawks’ chances coming from behind to take one from the Tornados for the second year in a row, as Brevard opens up the first three-game winning streak in modern school history in winning, 27-24.
The Tornados stay home next weekend as they play host to Southern Virginia. It will be Family Day for Brevard College, with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m.