Tigerville, S.C.—Ashton Heard had 177 yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns while Nelson Hughes passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns in North Greenville's 35-13 upset of eighth ranked Lenoir-Rhyne, Saturday night in Younts Stadium.
The Crusaders came out swinging, taking the opening kickoff 72 yards for a score. Heard punched in his first of three touchdowns from nine yards out to give NGU a 6-0 lead. The Crusaders gambled with a two-point conversion as Nelson Hughes hit Robbie Brown from the one yard line to give NGU an 8-0 lead early in the game.
Lenoir-Rhyne responded with a scoring drive of its own, taking the ensuing kickoff 72-yards as well. The Bears capped the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown from Kristaan Ivory. Ivory finished as LR's leading rusher with 114 yards on 16 carries. The Bears would also capitalize on a two-point conversion attempt to even the tally at 8-8.
Ivory's touchdown with seven minutes left in the first quarter would be LR's only touchdown of the game. The Bears scored on a field goal in the final seconds of the of the second quarter and a blocked PAT which they took back for two points in the fourth quarter to earn their 13 points, as the North Greenville defense shutdown one of Division II's most prolific rushing offenses.
Lenoir-Rhyne finished with 345 total yards as NGU limited the big play offense, holding them to 24 points under their 2014 scoring average. Tony Godbolt paced the North Greenville defense with 14 tackles while Quan Weeks finished with 12. Nigel Gay and Weeks both had 1.5 tackles for a loss.
NGU took a 21-8 lead into intermission as Heard added a second rushing touchdown while Hughes hooked up with Mason Sanders from 45-yards out for his first touchdown of the day.
The momentum of Saturday night swung back and forth but the stage never seemed too big for the upset minded Crusaders. NGU's defense stood up on two fourth down stops while forcing two punts and recovering a fumble and NGU's offense recovered from an early second half turnover to score twice more, handing the Bears their first regular season loss in 22 games, and first road loss in 16 tries.
Ashton Heard put NGU up 28-13 midway through the fourth quarter with a three yard rushing touchdown while Sanders and Hughes hooked up for a second time. A fade to the left corner of the end-zone with 9:33 left extended the lead to 22. NGU's "Black Swarm" defense then stopped the Bears on fourth down for the second time to put the final nail in the coffin.
The win over the Bears is North Greenville's first win over a top 10 team in program history and first win over Lenoir-Rhyne since 2011, a game that was also televised by WMYA My-40. The Crusaders earned a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs the same year.
North Greenville is now 1-1 on the season with a game against local rival Newberry College on the horizon. The Crusaders and Wolves will kickoff at 4pm next week at Setzer Field in Newberry, South Carolina.