North Greenville football fans could easily cast aside the 2008 season following the Crusaders’ start this year. That would be shortsighted in light of the stringent schedule the gridiron guys have encountered thus far.
NGU opened the season at Liberty University, which is 3-0 and now ranked #23 in the Division I FCS national rankings. Also, state rival Newberry College is ranked #22 in the national NCAA II poll by the American Football Coaches Association. Newberry also was edged 14-9 by #1 ranked and defending national champion Valdosta State. NGU’s three opponents are now 7-2 overall.
Playing a short week game last Thursday night at Newberry College, the Crusaders ran into a buzz saw in a well-rested and powerful NU squad. The nickname depleted Newberry team dominated both sides of the ball and came away with a 41-3 victory over North Greenville at Setzler Field. Newberry compiled over 400 yards of total offense and limited the Crusaders to fewer than 40 yards rushing.
Turnovers plagued the Crusaders in the first half. NGU gave up two fumbles and Richard Harb threw an interception with 4:50 left in the half and Newberry scored on a pass play two plays later to make it 21-3 at the half. NGU again controlled the tempo of the game by leading in plays and time of possession in the first half. The Crusaders ran 39 plays to 27 for Newberry and held the ball for almost 19 minutes.
Newberry was the beneficiary of several NGU mistakes and scored on big plays. Newberry’s first touchdown came after the NGU defense forced an interception. Freshman Jereme Green intercepted a pass from NC quarterback Eric McCollom that halted a drive. After NGU’s offense stalled, a bad snap on the ensuing punt gave Newberry the ball on the five yard line.
Newberry’s powerful offensive line was able to lead them to 73 yards on the ground and 187 yards of total offense. NGU’s only points of the game came on a Michael Sears’ 26-yard field goal with 7:33 left in the first half. The Crusaders struggled against the quick Newberry defense, and netted 0 yards. Harb managed to throw for 114 yards on 9-18. He threw one interception in the first half.
Newberry turned on the offensive jets in the second half and led 35-3 after three quarters. The NC defense bottled up Harb with a ferocious pass rush. He was sacked three times in the third quarter and NGU could not sustain a lengthy drive. The Crusaders were unable to move the ball consistently in the second half and Newberry used its size and speed to score twice on the ground in the third quarter.
NEXT UP FOR NGU: The Crusaders return to the Division I FCS schedule that dominates its 2008 schedule next week as they will take on Charleston Southern in Charleston Saturday, Sept. 27. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Following that contest is a trip to Clinton, SC to take on Division I Presbyterian College Saturday, Oct. 4 at 2:00 p.m. The Crusaders’ next home game is Thursday, Oct. 9 when they host #3 ranked North Alabama at 7:00 p.m. at Younts Stadium.
OTHER NEWS TO NOTE:
• BERNARDI NAMED ICAA NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Andre Bernardi of NGU was named the Independents Collegiate Athletic Association’s (ICAA) Defensive National Player of the Week following his performance against Division I Liberty University. Bernardi, a native of Marietta, GA (Osborne HS), had nine total tackles (eight in the first half, two solos and seven assists), one tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries against defending Big South Champions. The ICAA is comprised of NCAA Division II independents in all sports, but in football includes North Greenville, Lake Erie, Lambuth (TN), Oklahoma Panhandle State, UNC Pembroke, Southwest Baptist (KS), and Urbana.
• Don’t know where to find NGU sports events? We make it easy for you. Just go to ngcrusaders.com and click on FAN ZONE at the top. Then, fill out the ‘join our mailing list’ link.
• The students coordinating tonight’s game in the black event management shirt are NGU sport management majors. These young men and women are training to become the athletic administrators of the future and are here to serve all Crusader fans.
• If you can’t make it to NGU road games, be sure to listen to the broadcast on 95.5 FM (WNGR – The Vibe). Dr. Wilson Nelson, Crusader Club Director, calls all the action.
• To get more involved with NGU athletics, join the Crusader Club. Contact Dr. Nelson at (864) 977-7017, or check out the information at ngcrusaders.com.