Tigerville, SC – North Greenville University (1-3) piled up 436 yards of total offense and Richard Harb threw for two touchdowns an rushed for another as the Crusaders outmatched Kentucky Wesleyan (1-2) 44-14 before a crowd of 2,538 at Younts Stadium.
Crusader Coach Mike Taylor’s two back rushing scheme worked well as the twin senior running backs Rashad Cummings and Matt Moore combined for over 200 yards. “We stayed with the two back scheme and Matt Moore and Rashad Cummings rushed the ball like two champions, Taylor noted. Moore rushed for a season high 143 yards and scored on a two yard run in the third quarter. Cummings added 93 yards and had a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Harb threw went 11-22 for 203 yards and hit wide receiver Travis NeeSmith with a 69 yard strike in the second quarter. NGU led 24-14 at the half and then poured it on the second half.
Kentucky Wesleyan struck first in the game when Chris Owen hit David Smith over the middle with 11:12 left in the first period for a 22 yard touchdown score.
Senior defensive end Andre Bernardi caught his first career touchdown pass when he was inserted as a tight end in the first quarter. Harb hit the All-American defender with a seven yard touchdown pass with 5:17 left in the first quarter to tie the score at 7-7. The diverse senior from Marietta, GA, has now played on all teams for NGU as he is also on the kickoff coverage unit.
“We learned our lessons in practice this week and we were able to apply them tonight,” Crusader head coach Mike Taylor said. “Even though Kentucky Wesleyan scored first, we stayed calm and patient with the game plan. Our defense was able to shut them down and turned them away on key fourth down plays. The defense made some big things happen.” Kentucky Wesleyan turned the ball over four times in the game, giving up three fumbles and an interception.
KWC came right back with an 81 yard drive that was aided by a pass interference call against the Crusaders. Thomas Gordon scored for the Panthers on a 25 yard touchdown run. North Greenville jumped ahead 21-14 on Rashad Cummings’ five yard touchdown run at the 10:51 mark of the second quarter. The Crusaders went 32 yards after Tyrell Davis forced a fumble that Jarius Mack fell on.
“Another big key was that we covered kicks a lot better tonight,” Taylor added. “We kicked the ball better and made more sure tackles. We decided we were going to play eight deep on the defensive line because they threw the ball 50 times. It’s exhausting when you’re rushing the passer that much, so we rotated them in quite a bit.”
Michael Sears then booted a 20-yard field goal to put NGU up 24-14 with 10:30 left in the first half.
“Tonight was a very physical game,” Taylor said. “I was very proud of our rookies though, because it seems we either have seniors or freshmen playing. Tyrell Davis played real well tonight and made a lot of big plays.”
Early in the second half, Kentucky Wesleyan seemed to gain the momentum, but Tyrell Davis intercepted a Chris Owen pass early in the third quarter. Harb connected with Brandon Dobbins for a 51 yard gain to the two yard line. Matt Moore then punched it into the end zone two plays later to put NGU up 31-14 with 12:14 left.
“NGU has a really good team, but you aren’t going to win many games when you turn it over four times,” Kentucky Wesleyan head coach Brent Holsclaw.
The Crusaders will travel to Charleston next Saturday to take on in state rival Charleston Southern at 1:30 p.m.