Tigerville, SC – North Carolina Pembroke broke upon a close game with two touchdowns in the third quarter and the 19th ranked (NCAA II) Braves downed North Greenville University 42-14 in the season finale for the Crusaders at Younts Stadium.
North Greenville (2-8) got on the scoreboard first when freshman Isaiah Johnson took a Pembroke punt 49 yards into the end zone. Zach Sears’ extra point put the Crusaders up 7-0 with 8:16 left in the first quarter. Pembroke (9-1) came right back on its next possession and Rashon Kennedy dove in from four yards out. Taylor Baskett’s extra point tied score at 7-7 with 2:43 left in the first.
The efficiency of the Pembroke offense was thekey to the game. The Braves scored touchdowns on six of seven drives from late in the first quarter until the end of the third. NGU had a chance to go ahead early in the second period, but the Braves stopped NGU on fourth down at the 18 yard line and took over on downs. Travis Daniels scored on a 14 yard dash around right end to give UNCP at 14-7 lead with 13:20 in the second. The Braves widened the gap when quarterback Cory Smith hit a wide open Jamelle Banks with a 28 yard touchdown pass to make it 21-7 at halftime.
Pembroke had 392 yards of total offense, to 235 for NGU. Travis Daniels had 82 yards rushing for UNCP and Smith went 13-16 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Beasley went for a season high 72 yards for North Greenville, Montez Hatten had 57 and Aaron Seigler had 50.
NGU was celebrating Military Appreciation Day and Senior Day during the game, but the Braves crushed any NGU hopes in the third quarter. Daniels broke free for a 22 yard touchdown run with 9:10 left in the third quarter. Pembroke put it out of reach when L.J. Johnson caught a 16 yard pass from Smith, and Keith Gore added a two yard touchdown run to put UNCP up 42-7 with 12:31 left in the game.
The Crusaders added a bit of excitement for the fans when they took a Brave punt and went 10 plays and 64 yards and freshman running back Justin Beasley took an Aaron Seigler handoff and scored from two yards out with 1:43 left. Sears’ extra point made the final margin 42-14.
Coach Jamey Chadwell, who finished his first season as head coach at NGU, despite the loss, was still very proud of his young football. “We asked our kids to keep fighting hard all year long and ‘Striking the Stone’, and they did that,” Chadwell said. We had some chances to make some things happen, but just couldn’t find ways to score. Offensively we just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. Our record doesn’t show, but we’ve done a good job of changing the culture of what Crusader football is supposed to be about. Our senior class can be proud of that.” They were part of the group that won the Victory Bowl in 2006.
North Greenville honored seniors Andre Bernardi, Joe Novotasky, Justin Jones, Xavier Boykin, Doug Wilson, Johnell Bell, Michael Sears, and Chandler Bailey in pre-game ceremonies.
“We’ve laid a great foundation for what this program can be,” Chadwell added. I really thought we had a chance early in this game. We got the touchdown on Isaiah’s punt return, but they go down and its 7-7 already. We just had too many what if’s . If we hadn’t missed that field goal and if we could have scored when we reached the 18 yard line but turned it over on downs. We’re not good enough to beat a good team like that.”
“Isaiah Johnson did well on kickoffs and punt returns today, and Aaron Seigler came in and did some good things. We’ve got an awfully young team which is still learning how to play. But, you’ve got to be proud of what we’ve done this year.”