Tigerville, SC – The North Greenville University football team opened its 2013 season with some excitement in front of a nearly sold-out crowd in Younts Stadium, downing Albany State University 26-24 on a late field goal from junior Justin Gravely to seal the Crusaders’ first win of the season.
The Crusaders jumped on the board early, using a seven-play, 20-yard drive ending with a 37-yard field goal by Gravely to gain a 3-0 advantage just five minutes into the contest.
Sophomore wide receiver Thomas Weeks added to the Crusader lead with a four yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Nelson Hughes with 11:46 remaining in the second quarter. The extra point attempt bounced off of the goal post to make the score 9-0 in favor of North Greenville.
Back-to-back field goals by the Golden Rams’ Zachary Holley cut the North Greenville lead to 9-6 heading into intermission.
T. Weeks recorded his second touchdown of the game, this time a five yard score from Hughes, in the early goings of the third quarter to extend the Crusader to 10 points before Hughes and redshirt-freshman running back Trey Walker completed a 13-play, 80 yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 23-6 at the end of three quarters.
The Golden Rams struck early in the fourth quarter with a 31-yard pass from quarterback Frank Rivers to receiver Jessie Atkins with 11:38 left on the game clock. After a six-yard touchdown run by Phillip Moore brought Albany with in five, Rivers and Atkins connected on a 14-yard pass with 2:55 remaining to take a 24-23 lead.
On the very next drive, Hughes orchestrated an 11-play, 64 yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal from Gravely to secure the win and claim the Crusaders’ season opening victory.
As a team, the Crusader offense totaled 306 yards, headlined by Hughes who completed 24-of-44 pass attempts of 216 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Freddie Martino led all receivers with 12 receptions for 93 yards, while T. Weeks caught three passes for 29 yards and two scores. T. Walker totaled 100 all-purpose yards, including five receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.
The Crusader defense allowed 344 total yards to the Golden Rams while forcing four turnovers, including two fumble and two interceptions, in the game.
Red-shirt freshman Reubyn Walker led the charge with six total tackles in the game. Fellow red-shirt freshman Shaquan Burney totaled five tackles, including one tackle for loss, while KJ McDonald recorded five tackles, two pass breakups and an interception in the second half. Senior Braelen Meredith also totaled five tackles, including a tackle for loss and a sack with two quarterback hurries. Freshman cornerback Nigel Gay was all over the field as he totaled four tackles, including one tackle for loss, one sack, an interception, a forced fumble and three pass breakups on the game.
The Crusaders (1-0) travel to Lexington, VA on Saturday Sept. 14 for a contest with Division I-AA Virginia Military Institute at 1:30 p.m.