Greeneville, TN—Will Hunter threw for two touchdowns and ran for another while NGU’s defense held the Tusculum offense to 199-yards, carrying the Crusaders to a dominating 31-7 win over the Pioneers of the South Atlantic Conference.
North Greenville’s offense was an impressive 10 of 16 (63-percent) on third downs while the defense allowed just three conversions on 13 tries for the Pioneers. The Crusaders totaled 465-yards of total offense, equaling the season high set two weeks ago against Mars Hill. Saturday's win was the third consecutive over Tusculum.
The Crusaders shrugged off a slow start in the first quarter after an early penalty and a three-plays-and-out led to the game’s first touchdown. The Pioneers drove 57-yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead, draining four minutes off the clock.
The Crusaders answered on their next drive with a field goal to cut the Tusculum lead to four points as Matt Gravely connected from 45-yards out for his fifth field goal of the season and fourth field goal of more than 40-yards.
NGU’s defense would begin to settle in after the Gravely field goal, forcing the Pioneers to punt on their next two drives. Tusculum averaged just two yards on its next two drives, including a three-play drive that included three plays with a loss. Johnny Burch would force the second TC punt after a sack on third and long.
North Greenville’s defense set the tone heading into the second quarter and the offense began to follow suit. The Crusaders turned the third Tusculum punt into their first touchdown of the game as Will Hunter snuck it in from one-yard out to give NGU a 10-7 lead after the extra point. The touchdown was set up by Tristan Jackson who got the ball inside the five-yard-line on the previous play with a nice nine-yard run. Hunter put the exclamation point on the longest drive of the day for NGU which spanned 2:54 as the Crusaders marched 57-yards on nine plays.
The defenses would rule the next two drives as each offense was forced to punt. The Crusaders would rely on punter Bobby Foos during the first half, but the sophomore would also come up big on the offensive end. The tight end/punter for the Crusaders didn’t catch a pass in all of the 2015 season now has two touchdown receptions this year after hooking up with Will Hunter for a 64-yard catch and run which extended the North Greenville lead to 17-7.
The Crusaders would tack on two more touchdowns in the second half Mason Sanders caught a 17-yard touchdown pass while Tracy Scott added to his season total with a team-high 10th touchdown. Scott capped an 81-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to extend North Greenville’s lead to 31-7.
Will Hunter finished the day with 297-yards and two touchdowns through the air on Saturday. Ashton Heard got the majority of carries at the tailback spot, rushing for 52-yards on 17 totes. Jackson finished with 50-yards on just four carries while Scott racked up 37-yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
Bobby Foos proved his worth in the punting game as he averaged 45.8-yards per kick, pinning the Pioneers twice inside the 20. Foos finished with 64-yards receiving on one reception. Mason Sanders totaled 72-yards on five receptions. Christian Bruce was the leading receiver for the Crusaders with 124-yards on seven receptions.
North Greenville averaged 6.5-yards per play on Saturday while the defense held the Pioneers to a 3.8 average. The Crusader defense held Tusculum to just 68-yards on the ground and was on the field for just over 28-minutes as the Pioneers ran just 53 plays.
Quan Weeks finished as the leading tackler for the Crusaders on defense with seven tackles including three solo tackles. Eddie Studyvance led the way with one sack while Anthony Blair and Johnny Burch shared a quarterback sack. Sam Houston led the team with two tackles for a loss. Tiko Thompson had the game’s only interception while Latif Hughes forced a fumble.
The Crusaders are now 4-3 on the season and will hit the road again next week as they travel to Florence, Alabama. NGU faces a tough task, taking on 10th ranked North Alabama. The Crusaders and Lions are scheduled for a 6pm central time kickoff.