Gravely's Field Goal Lifts Crusaders To Road Victory
Greeneville, TN – A 34-yard field goal by senior Justin Gravely late in the fourth quarter gave the North Greenville football team a 38-35 victory over the Pioneers of Tusculum College on Saturday night as the Crusaders opened South Atlantic Conference Alliance play on the road.
After the Crusader defense forced the Pioneers to punt on their first drive of the game, the North Greenville offense quickly went to work. North Greenville put together an eight-play, 67-yard drive, ending with a 36 yard pass from junior Nelson Hughes to senior Thomas Weeks III, to go ahead 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Pioneers scored on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 7-7 before the two teams traded possessions as the first quarter came to an end. However, Tusculum recovered a fumble and returned it 72 yards for a score to gain the 14-7 edge earlier in the second quarter of play.
On the next possession Hughes would connect with freshman Mason Sanders on an eight-yard touchdown to end an eight-play, 57-yard drive and tied the game at 14 points apiece.
The Crusader defense once again forced Tusculum to punt the ball away, giving North Greenville the ball at their own 11-yard line with 2:13 remaining in the half. Hughes was calm under pressure as usual, leading the Crusader offense down the field in a two-minute drill. North Greenville would use a seven-play, 89 yard drive to take the 21-14 halftime lead after junior Tyrell Hillary recorded his first career touchdown on a 25-yard reception from Hughes.
North Greenville carried its momentum over into the second half, extending the lead to 28-14 after a 53 yard scramble from Hughes led to a 17-yard receiving touchdown by sophomore Tyrecous Garrett, ending a four-play, 84 yard drive to begin the third quarter of action.
Hughes and Weeks III would connect again on the Crusaders next drive, this time on a 67-yard touchdown pass as North Greenville gained a 35-14 edge with 1:11 to play in the third quarter.
However, Tusculum cut into the lead on its next drive as running back Fernando Smith punched the ball in from one yard out to make the score 35-21 in favor of North Greenville at the end of the third.
Tusculum opened the fourth and final quarter of play with another one-yard touchdown run by Smith, but a fumbled snap on the extra point attempt gave the Crusaders a 35-27 lead with 12:47 on the clock. The two teams once again traded possession until the Pioneers scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass and converted the two-point conversion to tie the game at 35-35 with just over a minute to play.
Once again the Crusaders proved to handle the pressure, driving 73 yards down the field to set up the eventual game-winning field goal. Senior Justin Gravely, no stranger to late-game heroics, placed the 34-yard attempt through the upright with 2.5 seconds remaining to give the Crusaders the road victory.
The North Greenville offense collected 545 total yards against the nation's #1 ranked defense as Hughes completed 24-of-30 pass attempts for 358 yards and a school-record five touchdowns. Hughes also led the Crusaders on the ground, rushing 14 times for 92 yards, while sophomore Ashton Heard totaled 79 all-purpose yards in his first career start.
Weeks III led the receiving corps with five receptions for a career-high 121 yards and two touchdowns, as Sanders totaled 51 yards on four receptions with a score. Hillary caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Garrett hauled in four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown as nine difference Crusaders caught a pass in the contest.
On defense, sophomore linebacker Sam Houston set a school record with 18 tackles in the game, while fellow sophomore linebacker Quan Weeks totaled 16 stops of his own.
Sophomore safety Tony Godbolt followed with 12 total tackles, as junior linebacker Jalen Hammett totaled six tackles with one tackle for a loss and a sack. Freshman lineman Anthony Blair chipped in four tackles, two tackles for a loss and two sacks of his own, bringing his season total to 4.5 sacks in the team’s first three games.
North Greenville (2-1) will host Brevard College next Saturday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in Younts Stadium to begin a two-game home stand.