Tigerville, S.C. – North Greenville football hits the road for the second week in a row on Saturday to take on the Indians of Catawba College, a team which could prove to be NGU’s biggest test of the season thus far.
The Indians enter Saturday’s matchup with North Greenville with a solid 4-1 mark, their only loss coming against Carson-Newman last weekend in Tennessee. They boast wins over Mars Hill, UNC Pembroke, and Division I affiliate Virginia Military Institute back in the second weekend of the season.
The Crusaders have faced the Indians four times over the last six years, dating back to the 2011 season. North Greenville won the first two match-ups but the Indians evened the series at two wins apiece, beating NGU once in Tigerville, and once up in Salisbury, the last meeting between the two clubs back in the 2014 season.
The Catawba Offense
- The Indians are averaging 34.4 points per game this season while averaging a solid 406.2 yards in the process.
Almost half of the total yardage for Catawba as well as half of the points come from the ground game. The Indians are averaging 161.1 yards running the ball this season and have scored seven rushing touchdowns on 189 attempts.
Eamon Smart has been the biggest beneficiary of the running attack this season, carrying the ball 109 times for 522-yards, a 99.2 yards per game average. He also has three touchdowns on the season.
Kenyatta Greene will spell smart in the backfield from time to time. This season he has 39-carries and a team-high four rushing touchdowns.
Catawba’s offense is just as dangerous through the air as it is on the ground. Led by quarterback Patrick O’Brien, the Indians have completed 83 passes for a 245.2 yard per game average. O’Brien has also thrown for 12 scores this season.
O’Brien has spread the ball around this season, knocking on the door of 11 different receivers. The leader of this group is Sam Mobley who has 25-catches thus far for a team-high 512 yards. Add in his five touchdowns catches, another team high.
Three other players have at least 10-receptions this year including Keyon West who is second on the team with 17.
- If the name Patrick O’Brien sounds familiar to NGU fans, its because it should as O’Brien was the quarterback for UNC Pembroke last season. In his one game against the Crusaders, he led the offense to 441, total yards, including 330 through the air. NGU fell to the Braves 49-35.
The Catawba Defense
- Catawba’s defense has been just as solid as its offense this season. The Indian defenders are holding opponents to just 14-points per game thus far on 302 yards in those meetings.
Opponents are finding most of their success o the ground, rushing for 166.4 yards a game with seven touchdowns. Opponents are also averaging just under five yards a carry against the Indians.
The pass defense is a different story for Catawba, and the story is that no one passes against it. So far in 2017, teams are throwing for just 135 yards against the Indians.
What’s more, quarterbacks in the opposite color have completed just 58-passes, only TWO of which were scores. Pass defenders are also keeping opposing wide receivers in front of the sticks with just 5.4 yards per catch average.
Catawba’s defense has solid individual numbers throughout the statistical report. Leading Tackler Trey Evans leads the bunch with 33 stops but Michael Peppers is close behind with 26.
Two other players including Kyle Kitchens and Trevor Bembry have at least 20-tackles on the season. Bembry is a name to remember as he is currently ranked fifth in the nation with seven quarterback sacks.
Bembry is where Catawba’s pass defense begins, but definitely not where it ends. The Indians get solid performances from their defensive backs who have recorded seven interceptions this season.
The biggest threat to NGU’s passing attack by numbers is defensive back, Chris Page. Page leads the defense in three different categories including interceptions (3), break-ups (6), and passes defended (9).
NGU in the National Statistics
- Ashton Heard is currently ranked 22nd in Division II football with six rushing touchdowns in five games.
- North Greenville’s block specialists have come through this season, blocking two kicks, ranking them 31st in the nation in that category.
- More on the special team's side as the Crusaders are 24th in the country with an average kickoff return of 23.9 yards per attempt.
- Matt Gravely is 41st in Division II football with a 72-percent field goal percentage.
Last Time out 2014 Game Recaps