Tigerville, SC – Freshman kicker Justin Gravely (Pickens HS) booted three field goals and sophomore running back Idris Anderson scored two touchdowns to lead North Greenville (7-2) to its fifth straight win and a 25-7 decision over Catawba before a Homecoming crowd at Younts Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders moved their record in the South Atlantic Conference scheduling alliance to 6-1 which would put them in the lead if they were an official member of the league. NGU is ranked fifth in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) South Regional NCAA Division II rankings.
North Greenville ground out 227 yards on the ground in 49 rushes with Teryan Rucker leading the way with 98 yards, including a 41 yarder that led to a Crusader touchdown. Catawba’s Jacob Charest was held to 180 yards passing on 25-43, and NGU limited the Indians to 36 yards on the ground in 20 carries.
On a cool windy afternoon, North Greenville struck first in the largely defensive struggle. Isaiah Johnson positioned the Crusaders for their first score with a 63 yard punt return to the three yard line. Anderson pushed in from a yard out two plays later to put NGU up. Gravely’s extra point put the Crusaders up 7-0 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
Catawba’s Thomas Trexler missed a 25 yard field goal attempt after a long Indian drive. The teams slugged it out on defensive, trading several punts, but NGU kicker Jacob Buckley kept Catawba pinned inside their own 20 for most of the game. With 7:28 left in the second, Willy Korn connected with junior wide receiver Sean Wright on the pass play of the year, when Wright stretched out in full stride and caught Willy Korn’s pass for a thrilled 54 yard gain to the Catawba 21. Gravely added his second field goal from 35 yards out at 3:09 to make it 10-0 NGU at the half.
The second half was again defensive showdown as the first four series resulted in punts. On the Indians’ third drive, after Buckley once again pinned them at the two yard line, a bad snap to Catawba quarterback Jacob Charest went into the end zone, and he kicked it out of the end zone for a two-point safety for the Crusaders. That made it 12-0 with 9:54 left in the third.
North Greenville finally managed a short drive, but it stalled yet again, but Gravely came on to hit his second field goal from 29 yards out to give the Crusaders a tight 15-0 margin.
After the fifth Catawba punt of the second half, Rucker rushed three times in a row (8, 25 and 6 yards), to set up Anderson’s second score from three yards out with 10:33 left. Gravely made it 22-0.
NGU moved down the field after another Catawba punt, and Rucker again spurred the Crusaders with a 41 yard gain to the Indian 13. The Indians turned NGU away again, and Gravely, who became the first NGU kicker to make three field goals in a game in modern times, connected on his final one from 25 yards out to make it 25-0.
The Crusaders lost the shutout when the Indians, behind four completions by Jacob Charest, had Bobby Morrison went in from five yards out to give Catawba its only touchdown. Trexler
made the extra point with 3:41 left and NGU narrowed missed yet another shutout, making 25-7 the final score.
NGU Coach Jamey Chadwell was highly pleased by the play of his special teams in the program’s first ever win over Catawba. “Our kickers did a great job tonight with Justin Gravely making three field goals and Jacob Buckley pinned them deep in their territory what seemed like the whole game,” he said. “Isaiah Johnson had another big punt return, so that area was really the difference in the game.”
“Catawba used a defense against us they hadn’t used all year and that threw us off a little,” he added. “We didn’t turn the ball over, but we couldn’t move it either, but our defense played like they have all year and kept them out of the end zone. They were really in our face all afternoon, but we moved the ball a little, and then it seemed like we’d get a penalty that would stop a drive every time. We had to decide it we wanted to pass and stop the clock, or run it and keep the clock moving. They were really good up front, and we didn’t block very well. I didn’t want Willy (Korn) to be a battering ram out there, so we just kept it on the ground.”
“It’s always good to get a win, especially against the SAC teams,” he concluded. “The only thing you can do is beat the guys in front of you and we’d be in first if we were in the league. Our conference championship game, if we were in the SAC, is next week at Wingate. It’s very tough to win on the road in the league, and we’ve got a chance to do something very special next Saturday. We have to play our best game of the year next week because of what’s at stake (a NCAA Division II playoff berth). If we beat Wingate, we’ll win the SAC scheduling alliance.”
North Greenville will put its season on the line next Saturday, Nov. 5 when they travel to Wingate University in the final game of the alliance. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. NGU’s final home game will be Saturday, Nov. 12 against the College of Notre Dame (OH) at 1:00 p.m.