Cullowhee, N.C. – North Greenville held serve late in the fourth quarter but a score by Western and a pair of defensive stands lifted the Division I Catamounts to a 20-17 win over North Greenville.
A quick field goal from the Catamounts put the Crusaders in an early hole. The lead for Western would last until late in the second quarter. A Chauncy Haney sack forced a WC punt which quickly spelled trouble for the home-standing SoCon squad after Harold Hilton returned it 72-yards for a touchdown to give NGU the 7-3 lead. It was the first punt return of Hilton’s career.
Western Carolina tacked on a field goal before half, a kick which was tipped by NGU but ricocheted off the cross-bar to make it 7-6. NGU finished with 51-yards in the first half compared to 181-yards for WCU. Chauncy Haney blocked a field goal for NGU as the special teams partnered with the defense to keep it close.
A field goal from NGU to open the third quarter and a touchdown on Western’s ensuing drive would make 13-10 in favor of the Catamounts. The Crusaders quickly countered on their next drive as London Johnson hit Kyle Belack on a 72-yard strike, making it 17-13 with 4:20 left in the third frame.
North Greenville limited the Western Carolina offense for the rest of the third quarter and much of the fourth. A fourth-down conversion on the NGU 13-yard line with the just over five minutes left gave the Catamounts life as they would go on to score the go-ahead score. Will Jones found Clayton Bardall from six yards out to put WCU back in front.
North Greenville had two chances late to re-take the lead. A drive which started at 4:59 ended in a punt while the final drive of the game for the Crusaders resulted in four incompletions. The Catamounts took over and ran down the clock to finish off the non-conference victory.
North Greenville finished with 204-yards on offense while Western finished with 345-yards while running 76-plays. Kyle Belack led North Greenville’s receivers with 81-yards and a touchdown. Semaj Lakin and Jarvion Miller-Norman led the Crusaders rushing with 42-yards each.
Defensively Johnny Worthy led with 11-tackles total. Chauncy Haney finished with a team-high two sacks to go along with seven tackles. He also forced a fumble and was credited with a blocked field goal. Jacob Stone also had a sack as the Crusaders finished with four on the night.
North Greenville opens Gulf South Conference play, traveling to Mississippi to take on Mississippi College next weekend at 7 PM central.