Tigerville, SC – The North Greenville University football team and head coach Carrol McCray earned the first win of the 2012 season after dominating the Wolves of Newberry 27-17 on Saturday night in Younts Stadium.
After the Crusaders’ first offensive drive stalled in just six plays, senior linebacker AJ Jones intercepted a Newberry pass on the Wolves’ first possession and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to put the Crusaders up 7-0 with 10:38 left in the first quarter.
The Wolves put together a 12-play, 84-yard drive that spanned through the first and second quarters, ending with a 20-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 with 14:26 remaining in the first half. On the very next drive, North Greenville put together a 5-play, 69-yard drive that put the team ahead 14-3 after a Taylor Malphrus rushing touchdown, his second of the season.
Newberry used a 7-play, 90-yard drive, ending with a 30-yard pass from WT Murden to Markish Jones just before the half to make the score 14-10 in favor of North Greenville at the break.
Each team traded possession throughout the third quarter with neither team gaining an edge until sophomore kicker Justin Gravely booted a school-record 44-yard field goal to put the Crusaders ahead 17-10 with 11:28 remaining on the clock.
The Crusaders forced Newberry to punt on the ensuing drive and began to put together a 5-play, 30-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard pass from quarterback Nelson Hughes to senior receiver Sean Wright to give the team a 24-10 advantage with 7:48 remaining.
On the following drive, the Wolves cut into the lead with a 4-yard rush from Lyndon Ingram to make the score 24-17 before Gravely hit another field goal, this time a 41-yarder, to make the final score 27-17 in favor of the Crusaders.
On offense, North Greenville totaled 428 total yards as Hughes was a stellar 14-of-26 through the air for 139 yards and one touchdown, while freshman Classe Thompson led the ground attack with 11 rushes for a career-high 86 yards. Darius Paulk chipped in 46 yards of his own on 12 carries in his first game back from an ankle injury. Freddie Martino led all receivers with a game-high nine receptions for 45 yards, while Wright finished the game with two receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
The Crusader defense allowed just 291 total yards with safety Darren Foster leading the charge with a career-high 12 tackles. Junior linebacker Braelen Meredith followed close behind with 11 tackles of his own, including 2.5 tackles for loss, while Jones and fellow senior Jonathon Sharpe each finished with nine tackles in the game.
The Crusaders (1-5) will look to put together back-to-back win next weekend and they travel to Johnson City, TN to take on Carson-Newman College at 3 p.m.