Charleston, SC – It was the little things that mattered in a matchup of in-state rivals as Division I FCS Charleston Southern escaped a serious challenge from NCAA II North Greenville as the Buccaneers bed on for a 41-31 win over the Crusaders at CSU Stadium before 3,421.
It was a tale of two quarters in the first half as NGU stunned the crowd at CSU by holding a shaky Buccaneer offense to three consecutive three and outs in the first quarter. North Greenville struck first when Trey Walpole connected on a 16 yard field goal to put the Crusaders up 3-0. After forcing another Buc punt on the next possession, sophomore Isaiah Johnson, took the punt, stuttered and then dashed up the middle to daylight on a 73-yard punt return touchdown. Walpole’s kick was blocked and NGU took a 9-0 lead.
North Greenville (0-2) dominated the offense categories for the second consecutive week, outgained their Division I opponents 405 to 393 yards for CSU. NGU also led in time of possession 33:50 to 26:10.
Willy Korn, making his first career start for NGU, passed for 14-26 and 197 yards with one interception on a last second pass with eight seconds left in the first half.
The second quarter was all CSU as they scored quickly with 13:41 left as DeMarcus Moon rushed for a one yard touchdown at 13:41. A.J. Toscano then hit Anthony Chalmers with a 32 yard touchdown pass to put CSU up 13-9 with 10:09 left in the second quarter. Toscano exploited the NGU defense for four touchdowns on the day and had 223 yards. Moon scored on another short two yard run with 4:46 left. Trailing 20-9, NGU could have gotten desperate, but Korn led the Crusaders on a seven play 76 yard drive for a touchdown to make it 20-17 at 1:10. Freshman Idris Anderson sprinted through a huge hole opened by the Crusader line for a 46 yard touchdown sprint. Korn hit Sean Wright for the two point conversion, making the score 20-17.
After the kickoff, Toscano gave NGU a huge opportunity inside a minute left in the second as he fumbled and freshman Michael Klein recovered at the 20 yard line of CSU. With time expiring, Korn’s pass intended to Sean Wright was picked. That made it 20-17 at the half.
Toscano and the deep CSU offense asserted itself in the third quarter as he hit Deon Lee for a 25 yard and 3 yard touchdowns in the third period. The Buccaneer defense bogged down the Crusader offense and after Kwane Krakue caught a 33 yard touchdown pass with 13:57 left in the fourth, it put NGU down 41-17.
Give Coach Jamey Chadwell and the Crusaders a ton of credit. They came storming back, and despite making small errors that caused opportunities for touchdowns and interceptions, NGU rallied once again. Korn cranked up the offense again an went on a 10 play 51 yard drive and freshman Marcus Wilson punched it in from two yards out for his second TD of the year. Korn then hit Sean Wright on a fade to the end zone for a two point conversion to make it 41-25 with 4:08 left.
NGU then stopped the Crusaders again and Korn marched NGU down the field again for nine plays and 73 yards, hitting freshman Kamrie Connell on a 15 yard pass for a touchdown. Korn, who had converted four straight two point conversions through two games, missed a pass under heavy pressure leaving the score 41-31. North Greenville could not recover either of its onside kicks and Charleston Southern knew it had escaped with a hard earned victory over its in state Baptist rival.
Coach Chadwell’s ‘Jamey Gang’ of young running backs ran for 214 yards. Freshman Idris Anderson had 68 yards and a touchdown, Teryan Rucker had 41 yards, Korn had 36, Eric Beeks ran for 34, Anthony Johnson gained 25, and Marcus Wilson six, and Freddie Martino four yards.
Receiving, Connell had five catches for 59 yards, Martino had 3 for 57, and Wright 3 for 55.
The Crusaders will be on the road for the third consecutive week as they travel to Jacksonville, Fla. To take on Edward Waters at Raines High School. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. Following that contest, NGU will host Lenoir Rhyne of the South Atlantic Conference Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Younts Stadium.
For more information on NGU Football, check out the Crusaders’ athletic website at www.ngcrusaders.com.