Hickory, NC – North Greenville controlled the ball for 31:41 but Lenoir Rhyne used 28 first half points to hand the Crusader football team a 52-10 loss on Saturday night.
After North Greenville elected to receive the kickoff, quarterback Nelson Hughes, making his return from injury, led the Crusaders on a 14-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Justin Gravely to put the team ahead 3-0 with 9:40 left in the first quarter.
However, Lenoir Rhyne put together an 8-play, 75-yard drive on their first possession of the game that saw quarterback Reuben Haynes score from one-yard out to give LR a 7-3 advantage.
On the next series, a pass from Hughes was intercepted in the end zone and returned 15 yards to set up the Bears’ second drive of the game. Lenoir Rhyne wasted no time, scoring just four plays later on a 47-yard pass from Haynes to receiver Artis Gilmore to earn a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bears continued their offensive showcase in the first half as running back Austin Beaty scored on a one-yard touchdown run and running back Greg Baker scored on a 35-yard rush to make the halftime score 28-3 in favor of Lenoir Rhyne.
The second half of action almost mirrored the first as the Bear defense intercepted Hughes two more times and used a one-yard touchdown by Beaty, a 51-yard pass from Haynes to receiver Justin McCombs, a 20-yard field goal and a 60-yard rush by running back Chris Robinson to extend their lead against North Greenville.
The Crusaders scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter as Hughes hooked up with senior receiver Troy Jones for a 15-yards touchdown pass to make the final score 52-10 with the Bears on top.
On offense, Hughes completed 25-of-41 pass attempts for a career-high 247 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Nine different Crusaders caught a pass with senior tight end Kamrie Connell leading the pack, catching five passes for 45 yards, while Jones finished the game with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Fellow senior Sean Wright also recorded four catches for 42 yards of his own and Harold Small gained 25 yards on four catches in the game.
The Crusader defense was led by senior linebacker Jonathon Sharpe who finished the game with nine total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Nick Rodgers followed close behind with eight total tackles of his own, while Michael Klein recorded six tackles in the game.
North Greenville (0-5) returns home next Saturday, Oct. 6 as they host in-state rival Newberry College at 7 p.m. in Younts Stadium.