Tigerville, S.C. – The football game against Mars Hill wasn’t the only show in Tigerville on Saturday night as North Greenville celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2006 Victory Bowl Championship team.
The 2006 football season was the most successful season in program history at the time. The Crusaders won 10-games during the ‘O Six’ campaign, led by a record-breaking offense and a staggering defense. Led by Eric Moeller, NGU’s offense led the nation, averaging 472.2-yards per game and was second in scoring with 39.7-points per game. Moeller and company set school records in points scored with 476, team rushing with 3,033-yards, and total offense with 5,666-yards.
Defensively, the Crusaders allowed just 317-yards per contest while holding opponents to a 19.6 points average. NGU’s defense also forced 13-turnovers that season including seven fumble recoveries and six interceptions, three each from Derrick Miller and Tyrell Davis. NGU’s defensive front was equally as dangerous, producing 28 quarterback sacks and a staggering 58 tackles for a loss.
The 2006 football squad also boasted several players atop the NCAA Division II statistical rankings. Defensive end Andre Bernardi led the country in tackles for a loss with 2.4-tackles behind the line of scrimmage per game. Offensively, Eric Moeller was 10th in the nation with a 157-passer rating while Matt Moore 12th in D-2 with 1,290 rushing yards. Moore was also 13th in the country in all-purpose yards per game with 154.6. The Crusaders also had a second 1,000-yard rusher in Rashad Cummings who ran for 1,177.
The O-Six version of the Crusaders quickly rebounded from an opening season loss, winning four of their next five games. The regular season concluded with North Greenville winning five consecutive games including wins over NCAA Division I opponents Jacksonville and Austin Peay.
The record-breaking win came on November 18th when the Crusaders defeated Malone College, 56-28 in the NCCAA Victory Bowl. The Victory Bowl was the first of its kind as it was the FIRST bowl game of any kind to be hosted in the State of South Carolina. The Crusaders finished 23rd in the nation in the Don Hansen NCAA Division II Poll and first in the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association Poll.
With team success came individual success. Defensive end Andre Bernardi became the first NGU player to earl All-American honors from Daktronics as he was named first-team defense. He also earned a first-team American nod from Don Hansen and a second team nod for the Little All-American team. Matt Moore and kicker Adrian Escalona joined Bernardi with All-Region selections as Moore was named first-team offense while Escalona was honored with a second team nod.
Head coach Mike Taylor was named South Carolina Coach of the Year, finishing ahead of South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier and Clemson’s Tommy Bowden.
The former North Greenville football players were treated to dinner, toured the newest editions to the campus, and took in North Greenville's 51-26 win over Mars Hill. The team was also honored during a halftime ceremony.