Tigerville, SC – Sophomore running back Idris Anderson scored three touchdowns while the North Greenville (2-1) defense picked off three passes and recovered a fumble to earn a hard fought 27-7 victory over Tusculum (TN) (1-2) before 4,618 at Younts Stadium.
NGU defeated its second opponent from the South Atlantic Conference after opening the season with a big win over Newberry College. In a game where both teams compiled 748 yards of total offense, surprisingly it was a defensive struggle throughout much of the first half.
Sophomore running back Teryan Rucker had his best game as a Crusader with 169 yards on the ground, and Anderson added 72. Senior quarterback Willy Korn went 6-14 for 77 yards passing and had 44 yards rushing.
The Crusaders got on the scoreboard first when Anderson dashed in from 14 yards out with 6:25 left in the first period. Justin Gravely’s extra point made it 7-0. Johnathan Sharpe shut down a Tusculum drive by intercepting a pass at the NGU two yard line with 1:43 left in the half. That score held up at halftime.
Coach Jamey Chadwell’s Crusaders bounced back from a close loss to Division I Presbyterian last week by coming out of the blocks early in the third quarter. North Greenville opened up a 14-0 lead with a Marcus Wilson two yard touchdown run at 9:48 in the third. Anderson then added two more touchdown runs, one from 17 yards out at 2:40 in the third, and another with 7:47 left in the game. That made the score 27-0.
NGU’s defense also intercepted Bo Cordell twice more, once by Isaiah Johnson at the NGU goal line with 7:35 left in the third to turn away yet another Tusculum drive. On The Pioneer’s next drive, A.J. Jones recovered a Tusculum fumble to give the ball back to NGU. Nick Rosamonda had another interception for NGU in the fourth period.
Tusculum’s only score came with when Cordell hit Xzanvion Smith for a 52-yard score with 6:35 left in the game.
The North Greenville defense allowed Cordell a 38-60 effort and 394 yards, but only had one defensive lapse that would have given them the shutout. They also turned away Tusculum four times on fourth down conversions, and stopped the Pioneers three times inside the red zone.
“Our goal was to rush the ball tonight and keep their quarterback off the field,” Coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We were able to do that and our defense played absolutely great. Our ‘D’ had several key interceptions when they had us deep in our territory, and they also stopped them four times on fourth down. So that’s like seven turnovers.”
“This game reminded us of the Lenoir Rhyne game last year, because we were close with them at halftime, but they came out and stuck it to us in the third quarter. We didn’t want to let that happen again and our offense jumped on Tusculum right away.”
”We’ve been here two years and we finally won an opening game,” Chadwell added. “ The atmosphere was great this evening. Our fans got into it. We want to make sure we get off to a good start in our season and we’re getting there. We struggled a little coming into the game, but we came out of locker room in second half and put some points on board right away, and that gave us some momentum. Took a little of their fuel away in the third. It was crucial for us to come out in second half and get a few touchdown, and that gave us a chance to take some gambles with their quarterback. As I said, I can’t give our defense enough credit; they bent, but when got in red zone, they made big plays when we needed to.”
“We’ve got to go back up to Mars Hill again next week, but we’ll enjoy this one for a little while,” Chadwell said. “It’ll be another big game up there, so we’ve got to be ready.”
Senior safety Nick Rosamonda, whose interception in the fourth quarter sealed the Crusader victory, said the rest of the defense had a big game. “We had a good week of practice, and we were able to put good pressure on their quarterback. “The interceptions were momentum changers, and that’s why we’re out there. This was a very big game for us.”