Tigerville, SC – Senior quarterback Willy Korn accounted for three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air, as he led North Greenville (5-2) past NCAA Division II powerhouse Carson-Newman 34-27 at Younts Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders won their third consecutive game and now stand at 4-1 against members of the South Atlantic Conference.
Korn had 51 yards on the ground and scored two rushing touchdowns and passed for one score to Idris Anderson. Freshman kicker Justin Gravely (Pickens HS) had his best day as a Crusader as he kicked field goals from 30 yards out and hit another from 25 yards to begin the fourth quarter. He also hit all four of his point after attempts. Freddie Martino caught six passes for 100 yards for NGU, and Anderson rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown. Tyron Douglas led Carson Newman with 156 yards on 17 carries and Nate Inman added 90.
NGU outgained Carson Newman 368-352 in total offense. North Greenville’s senior nose guard Mark Smith (Greer Riverside HS) had his finest game as a Crusader with 12 tackles.
Carson Newman, which was ranked in the NCAA II pre-season top 25, scored quickly when Douglas took off on a 63 yard run on the second play from scrimmage in the game. Carlos Lopez’ kick made it 7-0 with only 49 seconds gone.
Gravely made it 7-3 with a 30 yard field goal with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
NGU jumped ahead when Korn hit Anderson on a swing pass for a 16 yard touchdown with 13:25 left in the second quarter. Carson Newman quarterback Brandon Haywood scored from three yards out with 6:08 left after a Crusader turnover to make it 14-10 Eagles. Freddie Martino fumbled for NGU on its next series and the Eagles got the ball at the NGU 30 yard line. Haywood then nailed Douglas for a 20 yard touchdown to seemingly give Carson Newman a lift right before the half. Lopez’ extra point hit the upright and the Eagles led 20-10.
However, Korn engineered a game changing drive after the ensuing kickoff. With 2:23 left and the ball at their own 20, the Crusaders marched down to the Carson Newman 44 with 29 seconds left. Korn hit Harold Small with a stunning 37 yard completion on fourth and 7 that put the ball at the Carson Newman seven. After two incompletions, Korn scored from seven yards out on the option with two seconds left. Gravely’s kick made it 20-17 Carson Newman at the break.
North Greenville gave up two fumbles and an interception in the first half.
Korn’s touchdown changed the momentum of the game as the Crusaders then scored two touchdowns and a field goal before giving up a last second touchdown with seven seconds left in the game.
Idris Anderson’s 41 yard touchdown run put North Greenville back ahead at 24-20 with 6:06 left in the third quarter. Gravely nailed his second field goal from 25 yards out with 14:05 left in the game that put NGU up 27-20. On the next series for Carson Newman, Eagle quarterback Brandon Haywood marched the Eagles to the NGU 21 yard line, but NGU defense forced a field goal. Carlos Lopez’ 20 yard attempt was swatted down by Tyran Melvin, his third blocked field goal of the season for NGU. NGU marched to the 48 yard line, but they had to punt. Carson Newman started potential tying drive at its own seven yard line. On the second play, Haywood’s pass bounced into the hands of NGU senior linebacker Nathan Batchelor for his first interception of the year. With 4:36 left, Korn marched the Crusaders to the 10 yard line and he went dove into the end zone for the clinching TD with 1:34 left in the game.
Carson Newman didn’t stop though, and started a drive with 1:19 left. Haywood rushed for 27 yards, completed a 17 yard pass to Eric Benton and Nate Inman spun in from two yards out to bring the Eagles to within a touchdown with only seven seconds left.
The onside kick was picked up by NGU’s Nick Rosamonda who ran to the sidelines and the clock expired.
“I’m proud of where we are right now,” NGU Coach Jamey Chadwell said after the game. Chadwell defeated legendary Eagles Coach Ken Sparks in the first meeting between the two. “We’re 5-2 right now but some people probably think we should be 0-7. It was great to see our team fight through injuries and adversity, and a lot of people still don’t believe we’re as good as we are. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made to date. We’ve got four games left and two home games, but one thing I’ve learned about the SAC is that you can’t take a week off. Someone will beat you.”
“What we have to improve on is we keep turning the ball over in the first half and they get ahead of us and then it’s a fight,” he added. “If we hold onto the ball we play well and we can control the ball. Willy Korn made some big plays in the second half for us. He showed who he is and why he’s so great. He threw the ball well and made some big decisions in the second half. He took us on his shoulders and he made the plays.”
“The game really changed right at the end of the second quarter when we made the big play to Harold Small and Willy went in right at the end of the half. It changed the momentum and we got on them in the second half. That was a big, big play for us. We created some turnovers in the second half and despite turning it over in the first half, we survived. This was a major victory for our program.”