Tigerville, SC – North Greenville (3-2) scored three straight touchdowns in the second half after trailing 21-14 at halftime to defeat Lenoir Rhyne (3-2) of the South Atlantic Conference 35-27 at Younts Stadium on a chilly Saturday night.
Teryan Rucker rushed for 103 yards, his third consecutive game over 100 yards, and scored two touchdowns to lead the Crusaders to a bounce back win. Idris Anderson contributed 74 yards and a touchdown, and Willy Korn had his best game on the ground for NGU with 66 yards. Senior quarterback Major Herron rushed 27 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns to lead Lenoir Rhyne.
North Greenville seemed to take charge early when Marcus Wilson culminated an eight play 61 yard drive with a four yard touchdown run. Justin Gravely’s kick made it 7-0 NGU with 8:46 left in the first.
The Crusaders had a chance to open up a big lead at the end of the first quarter when they moved to the LR 22 yard line. However, the ball slipped out of Korn’s hand with NGU driving, and Jeff Haney scooped up the fumble and went 79 yards to the NGU one yard line where he was tackled by Freddie Martino. Herron went in from one yard two plays later to tie it 7-7.
Herron scored on another one yard run at 8:36 to put Lenoir Rhyne up 14-7. NGU tied it up on a drive dominated by Rucker’s ground work. The Crusaders went 53 yards in eight plays when Rucker went in from five yards out with 4:49 left in the half.
Nick Stutts, who caught 10 passes for 156 yards for LR, snagged a 40 yard touchdown score from Herron with 2:10 left to take a 21-14 lead at the break. The Crusaders turned the ball over four times in the first half.
North Greenville exploded in the second half by spreading the field with a fast option offense. NGU tied it quickly when Rucker scored his second touchdown with 10:34 left in the third. Five minutes later, Korn hit Sean Wright for a leaping touchdown from 17 yards out for his second TD of the season. Gravely’s kick made it 28-21.
Herron and Lenoir Rhyne had a major opportunity at the start of the fourth quarter when the Bears held NGU on fourth down and six inches and took over on downs at their own 49. He led the Bears down to the North Greenville one yard line, but he fumbled the ball into the end zone and Johnathan Sharpe recovered to end the threat. Korn then led NGU on an eight play 80 yard drive, including a season best 30 yard scamper on a first down. Idris Anderson scored his touchdown with 3:57 left in the game to put NGU up 35-21.
Lenoir Rhyne, which averaged 248 yards rushing a game, was limited to a meager 100 yards rushing. The Bears did put together a nine play drive for 75 yards in a quick 2:12 when Stutts caught his second touchdown pass with 1:45 left. Mark Smith of NGU swatted down the extra point, and North Greenville led 35-27.
LR recovered the onside kick on the ensuing kickoff at the LR 39. The Bears gained one first down, but Herron threw three incompletions and was sacked on fourth down and 10 by NGU’s Sharpe and Michael Klein to end the game.
North Greenville won its third game in four tries against South Atlantic teams.
“Lenoir Rhyne had a week off to prepare for us and they saw us play last week, so you have to give our staff and our players a lot of credit for a super effort,” NGU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We re- grouped after the Mars Hill game, and realistically, we could have scored a few more against LR. We were down 21-14, and could have gotten down, but the head coach went for it on fourth and short and they got momentum and our defense made a huge play picking up that fumble in the end zone.”
“We can be a pretty special team if we can play like that every week,” He added. “We’ve set ourselves up to have a very good season if we can continue that. We have to go on an eight hour, overnight trip next week, so that could be difficult for us. But, we expect it to be a good time our team to come together. It’s been a long, long time since a NGU team has been 4-2, so if we can come back with a win from Ohio, we could be set for a good run at the end.”