Tusculum falls 40-13 to Catawba for homecoming

Tusculum's L'Keith Brown (9) records one of his team-best 9 tackles against Catawba (photo by Chuck Williams)
Tusculum's L'Keith Brown (9) records one of his team-best 9 tackles against Catawba (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Catawba Indians scored 37 unanswered points in Saturday's 40-13 South Atlantic Conference football victory over the host Tusculum Pioneers.  Catawba (6-2, 2-2 SAC) reeled off 462 offensive yards, while the defense forced three TC turnovers and recorded five sacks to spoil Tusculum's homecoming game at Pioneer Field.                                            

The Catawba tailback duo of Kenyatta Greene and Eamon Smart rushed for 146 and 107 yards, respectively while also scoring a touchdown each.  Quarterback Patrick O'Brien went 19-of-29 for 218 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Catawba placekicker had a day too as he connected on four of his five field goal tries and was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points as he finished with 20 points.

The Pioneers (4-4, 2-3 SAC) were held to 199 yards offensively, including nine yards rushing on the day.

Tusculum quarterback and reigning SAC Offensive Player of the Week Alex Ogle went 11-for-26 for 190 yards and two touchdowns, for his 11th and 12th TD tosses of the season.

The start looked promising for the Pioneers as Martez Thompkins intercepted an O'Brien pass and returned the pick four yards to the Catawba 36.   Thompkins' eight career interceptions are the fourth-most in program history.

Ogle finished off from there with his 36-yard TD strike Evan Altizer for his fourth scoring catch of the season.  TC's two-point conversion try failed as the Pioneers led 6-0 at the 6:43 mark of the first quarter.

The Catawba Indians responded with a six-play, 66 yard drive which was capped off by an O'Brien 33-yard touchdown pass to Sam Mobley with 4:14 left in the frame.

Catawba outscored the Pioneers 20-0 in the second quarter as Tusculum was limited to minus-32 yards in the frame.  It started early in the frame when a high snap on a punt resulted in an 18-yard loss as Catawba took over at the TC 29.  Catawba moved the ball nine yards and would settle for a Brackman 37-yard field goal and a 10-6 lead.

Two plays later, Catawba's Dijonne Williams forced a fumble which was recovered and returned by Michael Peppers to the TC 12.  The Tusculum defense held as Brackman would nail a 28-yard field for a 13-6 Catawba lead with 10:19 left in the half.

Tusculum punted on its next possession and Catawba took over from its own 24.  Eight plays later, O'Brien found Jourdan Osinskie in the left corner of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown as the Indians extended the lead to 20-6.

Tusculum turned the ball over again as Isiah Huffin forced a fumble which was recovered by Ryan Watts at the TC 40. Using a short field again, TC was penalized for pass interference and Smart followed with runs of 20, three and two yards to punch it into the end zone for the score and a 27-6 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Tusculum went three and out on its opening possession and were forced to punt as Catawba started its drive at the CAT 43.  Smart ran for 31 yards to the TC 26 and O'Brien found Osinskie for a 23-yard completion to the TC 3. A false start penalty moved Catawba back and three plays later, the Indians would get a 23-yard Brackman field goal to push the Indians to a 30-6 lead.

Catawba made it 37-6 as Greene rushed up the far sideline 78 yards for a touchdown to give the Catawba Indians their largest lead of the game with 8:34 left on the clock.

Tusculum would add a fourth quarter touchdown on Ogle's 18-yard scoring toss to Evan Gates as he made an acrobatic catch in the end zone.

Brockman would tack on a 35-yard field goal late in the game to put the contest out of reach.

Williams led Catawba with his nine tackles, including two for loss and a sack.  LJ Melvin, Trey Evans and Huffin all posted six stops each.

Tusculum's L'Keith Brown had nine tackles, while Malik Goodman and Thompkins recorded seven tackles each.

Tusculum went 1-of-12 on its third-down conversions as TC finished the game with 11 first downs to the 18 recorded by Catawba.

TC sophomore Jay Boyd established career highs with his seven kickoff returns for 171 yards, both the second-most in school history.

Cantrell continues to close in on another punting record.  He owns the school record for most punts (230) and is just 72 punting yards away to break that mark.

Evan Gates led the Tusculum receivers with three catches for 50 yards, while Cruell added three receptions for 34 yards and a score.

Altizer established a personal milestone as he recorded his 2,000th all-purpose yard with his 62 total yards on Saturday.

Tusculum will be on the road next Saturday when they face arch-rival Carson-Newman for a 1 p.m. kickoff from Burke-Tarr Stadium in Jefferson City.