NEWBERRY, S.C. --- Alex Ogle scored on a two-yard run on fourth down, then connected with Conner Johnston for a two-point conversion as Tusculum pulled out a thrilling 32-31 double-overtime win over Newberry in South Atlantic Conference action Saturday afternoon at Setzler Field.
Trailing 31-24 after Newberry scored on its possession in the second overtime period, the Pioneers moved the ball to the Wolves 2 yard line on fourth down. Ogle kept the ball and plunged into the end zone to pull the Pioneers within a point, and Tusculum did not hesitate to go for the winning two-point attempt as Ogle found Johnston wide-open for the conversion to give the Pioneers their first win at Newberry since 2009 and even the all-time series at 10 wins apiece.
Ogle threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns and ran for the overtime score for the Pioneers (4-3, 2-2 SAC), while Maxwell Joseph had 18 carries for a season-high 126 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Hunter Cantrell had a stellar day punting the ball for the Pioneers, averaging 43.1 yards per kick and placing all eight of his punts inside the 20-yard line including six inside the 10-yard line.
Greg Ruff passed for 148 yards and two scores for the defending SAC champion Wolves (4-3, 2-1 SAC), while adding 114 yards on 25 rushing attempts. Markell Castle had four catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns for Newberry, which forced overtime on a 35-yard field goal by Shea Rodgers with 6:05 left.
Tusculum got the ball first to start overtime, and needed five plays to take a 24-17 lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ogle to Gary Breuklander. The Wolves answered on their possession as Ruff hooked up with Castle on an 8-yard scoring pass on third and goal to knot the game at 24-24 after the first overtime.
The Wolves started the second overtime with possession and moved the ball to the Pioneer 2 yard line. After a pair of losses, the Wolves faced third and goal from the 5 and appeared to have to settle for a field goal attempt on an incomplete pass. However, a flag was thrown for defensive holding to keep the drive alive, and Austin Barnes punched it in from two yards out to put Newberry on top 31-24.
On their possession, the Pioneers drove the ball to the Newberry 1 and faced fourth and short, where Ogle ran the ball into the end zone to pull Tusculum within one and set up the winning conversion. It was the third time that the Pioneers have gone for a winning two-point conversion in overtime in the past two seasons, and the second successful attempt following last year's 31-30 victory over Carson-Newman.
Tusculum took the opening kickoff and gained a first down on its first play from scrimmage on an 11-yard pass from Ogle to Eric Lynch, but the drive stalled and the Wolves took over on their own 10 after a 45-yard punt by Cantrell.
The Tusculum defense forced a three-and-out on Newberry's first possession, and the Pioneer offense moved 23 yards in seven plays before being stopped on an incompletion on fourth-and-8 from the Wolves 36. Newberry picked up its initial first down on a 12-yard scramble by Ruff, but had to punt as the game remained scoreless under four minutes in the first quarter.
The Pioneers closed out the first quarter by driving to midfield on a 21-yard completion from Ogle to Evan Altizer on third-and-15 and a pass interference call on a third-and-4 play. Tusculum moved to the Newberry 38 before being stopped, with Cantrell pinning the Wolves at their own 3 on the punt.
A 20-yard run by Barnes was the only significant positive play for Newberry on its next possession, and Tusculum took over at its 40 with just over 10 minutes left in the half. Another Cantrell punt resulted in a fair catch at the Newberry 15, and the Wolves used runs of 10 and 17 yards by Ruff to move to the Pioneer 39, where backup quarterback Nick Jones found Castle for a touchdown pass and a 7-0 Newberry lead with 5:30 to go in the first half.
Tusculum was able to flip the field again on a 53-yard punt by Cantrell that left Newberry at its own 7 with 2:43 left in the half. However, the Pioneer defense came up with a big play as L'Keith Brown picked off Jones at the Wolves 31 with 1:03 to go. Brown's first career interception set up a 36-yard field goal by Gabe Shillings as time expired that sent the Pioneers to the locker room trailing 7-3.
Newberry took possession to start the second half and moved 69 yards in just three plays, as a 25-yard run by Ruff and a five-yard carry by Darius Clark set up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Ruff to Keinan Lewis. The extra point from Shea Rodgers extended the Newberry lead to 14-3 with exactly one minute elapsed in the third quarter.
The Pioneers answered quickly with their first touchdown of the game, as Joseph took a handoff on third-and-1 and rumbled 66 yards to the end zone to pull Tusculum within 14-10 with 13:08 left in the third quarter. The 66-yard run was the longest play of the season for the Pioneers, and was the SAC-best ninth rushing touchdown of the season for Joseph.
Newberry picked up three first downs on its next possession and held the ball for 5 1/2 minutes, but a sack from the Pioneers' Cameron Gergley on third down forced the Wolves to punt the ball away. Tusculum moved the ball into Newberry territory on completions from Ogle of five yards to Breuklander, 10 yards to Altizer and 13 yards to Keondre Banks. However, the Pioneers were again forced to punt and Cantrell delivered by leaving Newberry at its own 5 with 2:51 to go in the quarter.
Tusculum forced a three-and-out and took over at its 47 with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter. The Pioneers faced fourth-and-1 at the Newberry 41 at the start of the fourth quarter, but Joseph picked up three yards to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, the Pioneers took the lead for the first time as Ogle connected with Altizer for a 27-yard touchdown with 13:59 left, capping a six-play, 47-yard drive and giving the Pioneers a 17-14 lead.
Trailing for the first time, the Wolves quickly moved into Pioneer territory on a 37-yard pass from Ruff to Lewis, but a sack on third down by Josh Forrest forced Newberry to punt with 11:28 remaining. Tusculum punted away on its next possession, and a 44-yard pass from Ruff to Castle allowed the Wolves to drive 65 yards in seven plays for the game-tying field goal from 35 yards by Rodgers with 6:05 left.
The Pioneers started their next drive in promising fashion with a 22-yard pass from Ogle to Altizer, but were forced to punt from the Newberry 47. Cantrell continued his outstanding day with a 46-yard punt to the Wolves 1, and the Tusculum defense allowed the Pioneers to get the ball back at the Newberry 47 after a punt with 1:08 to play.
A sack on first down was followed by two incomplete passes, and Cantrell's eighth punt of the day pinned Newberry at its 9 with 24 seconds left. Newberry ran two plays after regaining possession before time ran out and sent the teams to overtime for the first time in 20 all-time meetings. The win was Tusculum's first-ever road overtime victory after four losses, and improves the Pioneers to 4-6 all-time in overtime, 2-3 under head coach Jerry Odom and 1-1 this season.
With his eight punts, Cantrell became Tusculum's career leader in punts with 224, breaking the record of 219 set by John Gregory from 2006 to 2009. Brown also reached a career milestone as his team-high 12 tackles (eight solo) enabled him to become the sixth player in program history to surpass 300 career tackles, giving him a total of 304.
Altizer, Banks and Evan Gates shared the team lead with four catches apiece for the Pioneers, with Altizer gaining a team-best 80 yards. Ogle spread the ball around, connecting with 10 different receivers, en route to completing 22 of 38 passes.
Ruff went 9-for-14 for 148 yards for the Wolves, with Jones adding three completions in eight attempts for 58 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. Castle had 109 yards on four catches with two scores for the Wolves, with Lewis adding two receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Newberry ran the ball 50 times in the game, gaining 195 yards, while Tusculum had 129 yards on 36 carries. Barnes finished with 50 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown for the Wolves, with Clark adding eight carries for 28 yards.
Joining Brown in double figures in tackles for the Pioneers were Jay Boyd with 11 (six solo) while Malik Goodman had seven solo tackles and a pass breakup and Quaheim Glasgow had seven tackles (six solo). The Wolves were credited with six sacks of Ogle in the game, including 1 1/2 from Ty'Ran Dixon. Joe Blue led Newberry with 14 total tackles (11 solo) and two tackles for loss along with a pass breakup.
Newberry finished with 401 yards of total offense on 73 plays, while Tusculum had 74 plays for 353 yards of offense. The Pioneers were 6-for-17 on third down and 2-for-3 on third down, while the Wolves went 6-for-14 on third down opportunities. Both teams were flagged four times, with 43 yards in penalties to Tusculum and 25 to Newberry.
Tusculum will welcome Catawba to Pioneer Field next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for Homecoming. The Indians lost to Wingate 27-24 on a last-second field goal to drop to 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the SAC.