Crusader Comeback Bid Falls Short Against LR
Hickory, NC – The Crusader offense would score 21 second half points but could not over a scoreless first half of action, losing 32-21 to #6 Lenoir Rhyne University on Saturday afternoon.
Each team was forced to punt on its initial drive, however, a fumble by the Crusaders in the endzone would give the Bears a safety and a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter as the rain poured down.
Lenior Rhyne would score its first touchdown of the game on the ensuing drive as a two-yard rush by Michael Patrick ended a 14-play, 68-yard drive to give the Bears a 9-0 lead after the first quarter of play.
After forcing the Crusaders into another punting situation, Lenoir Rhyne opened the second quarter with a 10-play, 85-yard drive to go ahead 16-0 lead after a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Miles Freeman. The Bears would tack on one more score, another one-yard run by Freeman, to take a 22-0 lead into the halftime break.
With the skies clearing up, the Bears began the second half with the ball, running 6:08 off the clock before netting a 21-yard field goal for a 25-0 lead early in the third quarter. Lenoir Rhyne’s defense forced a turnover on North Greenville’s first drive of the half, before sophomore corner back Nigel Gay intercepted a pass to give the Crusaders the ball on their own 36-yard line.
North Greenville’s offense responded quickly with a five-play, 64-yard drive, when quarterback Nelson Hughes connected with receiver Tyrell Hillary on a 22-yard touchdown pass to put the Crusaders on the board at the end of the third quarter.
The Bears responded in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a 19-yard run from Chris Robinson to push their advantage to 32-7 with just under 11 minutes to play.
The Crusaders came back with a scoring drive of their own as Trey Walker scored from two-yards out to the Bears’ lead to 32-14. After the Crusader defense forced a three-and-out, the offense would score again, this time on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Hughes to Thomas Weeks III with just over two minutes left in the game to make the score 32-21 in favor of Lenoir Rhyne.
North Greenville recovered the onside kick but was stopped on fourth down as Lenoir Rhyne’s offense ran the clock out to secure the victory.
The Crusader offense relied heavily on the passing game and Hughes finished 24-for-39 for 312 yards and two touchdowns, while Walker totaled just 25 yards on seven carries with a score on the ground. Sophomore Robbie Brown was once again the team’s leading receiver, catching 10 passes for 140 yards, as Hillary hauled in four passes for 53 yards and a score. Weeks also caught four passes of his own for 43 yards and a score in the game.
On defense, sophomore Quan Weeks led the attack with 15 total tackles and one tackle for a loss, while fellow sophomore Sam Houston totaled 12 stops to add to his season total. Junior Darius Custard recorded a career-high 10 tackles in the game, as redshirt freshman Johnny Burch totaled seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
The Crusaders (4-2) will look to rebound as they host Mars Hill University on Saturday, Oct. 18 in Tigerville for North Greenville’s homecoming contest in Younts Stadium at 2:30 pm.