Crusaders fall in opener 48-35
Saturday, September 2, 2006
Crusaders fall in opener 48-35

WISE, VA- North Greenville opened the 2006 season on a crisp, cool night in the Virginia mountains against the UVA-Wise Highland Cavaliers. Playing on the Astroturf at Carl Smith Stadium, North Greenville fell to the Cavaliers 48-35.

RaíShad Morgan ran for a 45-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left in the game to break a 35-35 tie and seal the win for the Cavaliers. Morgan finished with 90 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.

The Highland Cavaliers lit up the scoreboard on their first drive. Morgan capped an 11-play, 41-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run with 10:13 remaining in the first quarter.

North Greenville struck back on their third possession. Tim Brown scored on a 3-yard rush through the middle of the Cavalier defense. The play capped an 11-play, 77-yard drive. Adrian Escalonaís PAT tied the game 7-7 with 11:15 remaining in the second quarter.

The Crusaders took the lead when QB Eric Moeller connected with Travis Talbert for a 28-yard touchdown strike. The score was set up by a 47-yard rush by Matt Moore. Escalona added the PAT to give North Greenville a 14-7 with 5:26 left in the first half.

Cavalier kick return man Brandon Moore took the ensuing kickoff 61 yards to the North Greenville 16-yard line. Four plays later, QB Randy Hippeard would score on a 1-yard run. Ray Dammís PAT tied the game at 14-14.

North Greenville responded with a gutsy 11-play, 68 yard drive before halftime. Brandon Dobbins caught two passes on the drive, the last a 4-yard catch for the touchdown. With Escalonaís PAT , the Crusaders took a 21-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.

North Greenville was forced to punt after three plays to open the second half. UVA-Wise ran 12 plays for 73 yards on their ensuing possession, but turned the ball over on downs at the North Greenville 23-yardline. What looked like an opportunity for the Crusaders turned to disaster as the Cavaliers recovered a Moore fumble. Five plays later, UVA-Wise tied the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by Morgan.

North Greenvilleís next possession was not much better as Wise recovered another Crusader fumble, this time by Moeller. The Cavaliers took over at the North Greenville 47-yard line. On the fifth play of the drive, Hippeard hooked up with WR Kendon Doe for a 4-yard touchdown toss. Dammís PAT gave the Cavaliers a 28-21 advantage with thirteen second remaining in the third quarter.

The third possession the half was the charm for the Crusader offense, who did not let two turnovers get them down. Fighting back, North Greenville went 80 yards in 2:28. Moeller found Travis NeeSmith for a 48-yard strike. Then Rashad Cummings rushed for 32 yards on five straight carries, the last a 2-yard touchdown run. Escalonaís PAT attempt failed to make the score 28-27 with 12:45 remaining in the game.

The Cavaliers responded on their next drive, going 74 yards in nine plays. Morgan capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. Dammís PAT gave the Cavaliers a 35-27 advantage with 7:58 remaining in the game.

North Greenville was not ready to give in though. On the following possession, the Crusaders went 68 yards in nine plays for the touchdown. Moore scored on a ten-yard run. Moeller connected with Jarvis Garrett for the two-point conversion to tie the score 35-35 with 3:51 remaining in the game.

With 1:30 left in the game, the Cavaliers faced a third down situation with six yards to go for the first down. Ken Floyd and Johnell Bell sacked Hippeard for an eight-yard loss. Wise punted the ball and North Greenville took over on their own 36-yard line. On the next play, Moellerís pass was intercepted by Reggie Dorsainvil. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Cavaliers sent them back to the 45-yardline, but Morgan took the first play all 45 yards for the touchdown. Dammís PAT made the score its 42-35 with 40 seconds remaining in the game.

On the next possession, Moeller fumbled in the end zone. Matt Hutchings recovered for the Cavaliers to make the score its final of 48-35.

Hippeard completed 25 of 35 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown for the Cavaliers. Moeller completed 12 of 23 passes for 189 yards for North Greenville. Travis Talbert caught five of those passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. Cummings led the Crusader rushing attack with 130 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

North Greenville falls to 0-1 on the season as UVA-Wise improves to 2-0. The Crusaders will play the 2006 home opener at Younts Stadium next Saturday against Fairmont State. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.