Saturday, November 26, 2011
Mars Hill, NC – Senior quarterback Willy Korn rushed for three touchdowns and North Greenville scored 35 unanswered points in 11 minutes in the third quarter to pummel Mars Hill College 58-32 at the Ammons Family Stadium in North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Division II national championship playoffs Saturday afternoon.
North Greenville (11-2) established new school records for wins and consecutive wins (9) and will advance to the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals next week to face the NCAA II’s number one ranked team Delta State (MS), which downed North Alabama 42-14 Saturday.  NGU has now outscored its last four opponents 237-53.  Mars Hill managed to put up more points than the Crusaders’ previous five opponents.
Korn rushed for a season best 92 yards and completed 11 of 13 passes for 172 yards and one score to Sean Wright.  Teryan Rucker added 78 and a touchdown and Idris Anderson rushed for a touchdown.  The difference in the game was the NGU defense, which forced four Mars Hill turnovers.  Jamarius Robinson intercepted passes on back-to-back series in the third quarter and took one back for a 45 yard touchdown.  Nick Rosamonda added yet another touchdown off an interception in the fourth quarter on a 55 yard run.
In the wide open contest that saw 919 yards of total offense, NGU’s defense blew the game open in the third quarter.  Mars Hill’s Jonas Randolph rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown and freshman receiver Dimitri Holmes caught two TD passes to lead the Lions.
With the game tied 16-16 with 3:32 left in the first half, Korn marched NGU to the Mars Hill three yard line with five seconds left.  The key in the drive was when Korn hit Freddie Martino on a fourth and seven play with 22 seconds left.  That put the ball at the MHC 14, and Korn hit Taylor Malphrus for a 10 yard gain.  After spiking the ball, Korn threaded the ball through two defenders and hit Wright with a sizzling touchdown with five seconds left that propelled the Crusaders into the end zone with a 23-16 lead.
The victory over Mars Hill insured that North Greenville has beaten every team in the South Atlantic Conference for the first time ever this season.
The scoring train for North Greenville continued to roll right away against the Mountain Lions.  After the opening kickoff, the Crusaders started at the 13 yard line.  In the nine play, 87 yard touchdown drive, Korn hit Daniel Adderley with a 36 yard reception on a third down play, and Taylor Malphrus rushed for 13 yards to the MHC eight.  Teryan Rucker completes long scoring drive with a touchdown from eight yards.  Justin Gravely’s extra point made it 7-0 NGU early.
Mars Hill answered with its own long drive, but NGU allowed only a 29 yard Michael Pinkerton field goal with 3:32 left. 
After forcing a Mars Hill punt, Willy Korn ran the option on the first play of second quarter, and carried it in for a 34 yard touchdown.  Gravely’s extra point gave NGU a 14-3 lead with 3:36 left.  NGU went 76 yards in seven plays on the drive. 
The Mountain Lions once again showed why they were the #2 seed in Super Region 2 when Jon Richt drove them 65 yards in nine plays, when he hit freshman receiver Dimitri Holmes with a seven yard touchdown pass.  NGU blocked its eighth kick try of the year when Tyran Melvin batted down the ecxtra point by Pinkerton.  Senior safety Jamarius Robinson picked it up the loose ball and zig zagged his way down the field for the two points for North Greenville.  The Crusaders led 16-9 with 11:35 left in the second quarter.
On Mars Hill’s next drive, Jonas Randolph carried five times, including a four yard touchdown from four yards out with 3:32 left in the second quarter.  After the extra point, the score was tied 16-16 with 3:32 left in the half.
Korn showed his mastery of the game once again, as he drove the Crusaders down field from the 44 yard line.  Korn kept the drive alive with a 26 yard completion to Freddie Martino on fourth down with 21 seconds left.  He then connected with Taylor Malphrus to the three yard line with 10 seconds left.  Showing the bond between quarterback and wide receiver, Korn hit Sean Wright on a slant over the middle, threading the ball between three Mountain Lion defenders.  Wright read the Lions’ coverage and adjusted to the middle and Korn read it perfectly.  Gravely’s kick made it 23-16 at the half.
After the second half kickoff, Mars Hill began yet another drive, but on fourth down and nine at the NGU 26, Richt passed to Dimitri Holmes, but NGU’s Robinson batted away the pass.  That turned out to be the turning point of the game because NGU went on to score 28 points in the third quarter in 10 minutes of elapsed time to blow the game out of reach. 
Korn scrambled for his second touchdown from 23 yards out at 7:50 of the third to make it 30-16.  The game got away from MHC on the next series when Tyran Melvin swatted the ball out of Randolph’s hands and Zach Epting recovered for NGU.  Idris Anderson rushed three consecutive times, and scored from 11 yards out to give NGU a 37-16 lead.  The beleaguered Richt was intercepted by Robinson on the first play of the next series. 
Korn scored his third rushing touchdown from 12 yards out that made it 44-16.  On MHC’s very next play, Robinson picked off Richt once again on the very next play, and this time, went 45 yards for NGU’s fourth touchdown in six minutes.  That made it 51-16 with 4:15 left in the third quarter. 
Luis Cruz replaced Richt and the Lions put together a quick touchdown drive.  Cruz hit Holmes on an inside slant from five yards out.  MHC went for two and Cameron Shuford hit a wide open Josh Crumpton for two points.  MHC trailed 51-24 the Crusaders at the end of three quarters.
NGU’s Sean Wright caught a pass that would have given NGU a first down on a long third down play, but he fumbled, and Mars Hill took over at the 37 yard line.  Cruz started a Lion march, but the promising drive was dramatically stopped when NGU senior safety Nick Rosamonda accurately read Cruz’s pass, and intercepted Cruz at the 45 and cruised into the end zone.  After the kick, NGU led it 58-24 with 12:42 left.  The Lions added another touchdown when Cruz hit Randolph with a 21 yard TD pass.  Randolph hit Crumpton on the two point conversion.
“I am proud of the commitment by these guys to get back here after early season loss,” NGU coach Jamey Chadwell said.  Asked about the game changing fourth down gamble with 21 seconds left in the second quarter, Chadwell said, “We wanted to be aggressive and go for it on fourth down, and Willy made a nice pass to Freddie Martino.  It was a huge confidence builder for us and you saw how we came out in the third quarter.  The same thing happened the last time we were here, and we scored and we let things settle and they got back in it.  The defense forced a fumble and then we had two picks for touchdowns and things started to crumble for them.”
“Football is a momentum game, and when our defense saw we were scoring, they gained some confidence and really turned it up looking for turnovers,” he added.  “You’ve seen it from us the last four weeks.  When teams turn it over, we’re scoring touchdowns.  That takes a lot out of your opponent.”
Asked about the contribution of Willy Korn, Chadwell said, “You can use all the superlatives you want, but he’s a gamer; he’s a competitor.  He doesn’t want it to end.  When you’re in uncharted territory, you want to keep going.  He’s taken this team on his shoulders.”
It’s pretty special being a national quarterfinalist,” he concluded.  “Our team wanted a chance to show they could beat every team in the South Atlantic Conference, and they proved that.  Mars Hill had a whole extra week to prepare for us, and our guys came out ready to play and I’m proud of that.”