Tigerville, S.C.—The North Greenville football team kept its playoff hopes alive on Friday night with a 35-17 win over Livingstone College in Younts Stadium.
North Greenville and Livingstone battled to the tune of 990-yards combined in Friday night as the defenses struggled to gain a foothold after having only a couple days to prepare. The Crusaders put up 507 total yards while the Blue Bears finished the game with 483.
The two squads traded scoreless drives before Livingstone put up the first points of the night. A fake punt would keep the drive alive for the Blue Bears as they marched 77-yards on 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The fearless Bears didn't limit the fireworks on the first scoring drive to a fake punt as they executed a triple reverse during the drive en route to the first touchdown.
Nelson Hughes would put North Greenville on the board on the ensuing drive as he capped NGU's first scoring drive with a one yard rushing touchdown. Hughes found three different receivers on the drive while Ashton Heard added 29-yards rushing as NGU cut the deficit to 7-6 following a missed extra point.
The next three drives for either team would go scoreless. The Blue Bears failed to capitalize on a field goal attempt on their next drive while North Greenville would punt. Livingstone's next drive would result in a failed fourth down conversion as Drew Powell's pass would fall incomplete, giving NGU five minutes to work with before halftime.
The Crusaders would take six plays to go 72-yards on a drive aided by a pass interference and a 25-yard rush from Hughes as NGU looked to take the lead before intermission. Hughes would find Mason Sanders from the 11-yard line to give NGU a 12-7 lead. Hughes would then find Ricki Delos Santos in the end zone to convert a successful two-point conversion to extend the lead to 14-7.
Jeremy Massey would give NGU one more shot to add points with an interception but a missed field goal as time expired, sending North Greenville to the locker room with a seven point lead.
Livingstone would one again open the scoring in the second half after recovering an onside kick to start the second half. Drew Powell would find Jalen Hendricks in the end zone for his only passing touchdown of the game to even the tally at 14-14. The Blue Bears would add three more points in the second half, capping a 54-yard drive with a field goal, following a failed NGU fourth down conversion attempt.
The NGU offense would find its rhythm in the later minutes of the game. The Crusaders would gain a 21-17 lead on their next drive as Trey Walker found pay dirt with his first rushing touchdown of the night. Walker would find success once more before the end of the third as he scored from 27-yards out to extend the lead 28-17.
The Fourth quarter would be a stalemate until North Greenville's final drive. Nelson Hughes would hook up with Sanders one more time from 20 yards to make the score 35-17. Livingstone would kneel on the ball to run off the final 53 seconds as NGU improved to 8-3 on the season.
Walker finished rushed for 125 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. Nelson Huges added another 83-yards and a touchdown while throwing 290 yards to go along with two touchdowns. North Greenville's defense had 9 stops in the backfield led by Shaquan Burney who had 2.5 sacks. Mason Hodge had 13 tackles while Nigel Gay, Jeremy Massey, and Roderick McCray all had interceptions.
The Crusaders will learn their playoff fate Sunday night during the NCAA Division II selection show.