North Charleston, S.C.—North Greenville's 2015 season got off to a less than desirable start on Thursday night as the Charleston Southern Buccaneers earned a 41-14 victory over the visiting Crusaders at Buccaneer Field.
The Buccaneers wore down NGU's defense to the tune of 391 yards, 297 of which came on the ground. North Greenville netted just 268 yards, the lowest output by an NGU offense in several years.The Bucs made their game plan clear in the opening minutes as a 60 yard scamper from Darius Hammond put the Bucs up 6-0 after the ensuing point after touchdown was blocked.
North Greenville would respond with a 15 play 60-yard drive, which looked to be headed to the end zone. NGU failed to convert on a fourth down conversion at the Charleston Southern 35 however, turning the ball over on downs. CSU would capitalize with its second touchdown of the quarter as Ben Robinson took it in from 18-yards out to give the Bucs their second rushing TD of the game.
North Greenville would finally find pay dirt with 1:58 left in the first half, but not before the Buccaneers went up 20-0. Simeon Byrd would punch in NGU's first score of the season from 18 yards out to cut the deficit to 13.
NGU seemed to find some momentum after the Byrd touchdown, taking the second half kickoff and driving down to the Charleston Southern 13 yard line. The Crusaders looked to cut the Bucs lead to just one score but a fumble and a 53-yard return for a touchdown would kill NGU's momentum and turn the tide firmly in favor of Charleston Southern.
The Crusaders kept up the fight however, as a touchdown pass from Nelson Hughes to Mason Sanders from 14-yards out cut the lead back to 13 points. Hughes finished with 176-yards through the air with a touchdown while the Bucs had just 94-yards in the passing game.
The Buccaneers squandered and hopes of a comeback on the ensuing drive which ran 11 plays and 70-yards. The drive was capped by a third rushing touchdown for the CSU as Kelan Fraise scored from 10 yards out to become the third running back to score for Southern.
Charleston Southern would add seven more points with 5:30 left in the game on Ben Robinson's second touchdown of the game to ice the CSU victory. Robinson led the Bucs with 128 yards and two touchdowns while Darius Hammond racked up 114 yards on just nine carries. Simeon Byrd led NGU with 54-yards on the ground with a touchdown on 12 carries.
Taylor Anderson led North Greenville in the tackle column with eight solo stops on the night. Both Quan Weeks and KJ McDonald had four tackles each while weeks added a fumble recovery. Sanders led the North Greenville receivers with 73 yards and a touchdown while Robbie Brown finished with 69 yards.
NGU falls to 0-1 for the first time in three years after the opening night loss to Charleston Southern. The Crusaders will return to Tigerville for next weekend's home opener against Lenoir-Rhyne at 7pm on Saturday. The game between the Crusaders and Bears will be broadcast live on My40 WMYA out of Asheville, North Carolina.