GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Isaac Robinson rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns and Malcolm Pendergrass scored on a quarterback sneak with 3:11 left as Tusculum College defeated Brevard College 21-14 in a South Atlantic Conference game Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
The defense of Tusculum (1-4, 1-2 SAC) held Brevard (1-4, 0-2 SAC) to 163 yards of total offense, including one yard on eight plays in the fourth quarter, while the Pioneer offense controlled the ball for just over 11 minutes and scored two touchdowns in the final period to give first-year head coach Jerry Odom his first career victory.
Robinson, who set a school single-game record for rushing yards with 250 yards in last year's 20-0 victory over the Tornados, carried the ball 21 times on Saturday without being tackled for a loss en route to his fifth career 100-yard game. He scored on a five-yard run in the final seconds of the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7, then bulled across from three yards out with 9:12 left to knot the score at 14-14.
Pendergrass, who came on in relief in the first quarter for the Pioneers, completed his first six passes and finished the afternoon 9-for-15 for 76 yards. Brevard quarterback Bubba Craven went 0-for-5 passing with an interception, but was the leading rusher for the Tornados with 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Tusculum won the opening toss and went on offense first, but freshman quarterback Andrew Pereira was intercepted by Brevard's Casey Shubert at the Tusculum 33 on his first career pass attempt. The Tornados used a 26-yard run on third-and-9 by Craven to move inside the Pioneer 5, and Craven scored two plays later from four yards out to give the Tornados a 7-0 led with less than 4 1/2 minutes gone in the game.
The Tornados picked off Pereira for a second time as Amir Williams stepped in front of a pass at his own 27, but the Pioneers forced a turnover of their own on Brevard's next possession. Faced with a third-and-7, Craven was chased deep into his backfield and threw a pass that was deflected and picked off by Brandyn Bartlett, who took the pick back to the Brevard 32. Pendergrass entered the game under center for the Pioneers and drove Tusculum 32 yards in six plays, including a 21-yard completion to Evan Altizer, as Robinson scored from five yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with eight seconds left in the first half.
Each team had two full possessions in the second quarter, but were unable to mount sustained drives in the face of solid defensive pressure. Brevard and Tusculum went to halftime tied 7-7, with the Tornados owning a slim 15:20 to 14:40 edge in time of possession. The Tornados had 112 yards of total offense in the first half, while the Pioneers had 105 yards in the opening 30 minutes.
Brevard went three-and-out on the first possession of the third quarter, but regained possession as Jinsly John intercepted Pendergrass at the Tusculum 46. A 10-yard run by Tyler Gregory on third-and-9 and a face mask penalty against Tusculum set up Brevard with first-and-goal at the Pioneer 9. Three running plays left the Tornados facing fourth-and-goal at the 1, but Craven was able to get across the goal line to cap an 11-play, 46-yard drive that chewed up 6:58 and gave the Tornados a 14-7 lead with 4:57 left in the third quarter.
Tusculum was forced to punt on their next possession, but Gregory fumbled a pitch from Craven at his own 40 and the Pioneers' Malik Goodman pounced on the loose ball at the Tornados 41. The Pioneers punted on their next drive, but were able to pin the Tornados in their own end as the fourth quarter began.
Altizer sparked the rally by returning a punt 21 yards to the Brevard 37, and the Pioneers drove to the Tornados 1 and faced a second-and-goal. The Brevard defense stopped Josh Jackson on second down, and a false start left the Pioneers with third-and-goal from the 6. Pendergrass rolled right and was unable to connect on a pass to Chavis Williams, but a roughing the passer call gave the Pioneers a fresh set of downs. On the next play, Robinson fought his way across from three yards out to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:12 left.
The Tusculum defense shut down Brevard on their next possession, and Altizer took a punt back 26 yards to the Brevard 41. On third-and-7 from the Tornados 26, Lorenzo Mitchell caught a deflected pass for a 10-yard gain and a first down at the 16. Robinson ran the ball four straight plays to put the Pioneers at third-and-goal at the 1, and Pendergrass called his own number to give the Pioneers their first lead of the day at 21-14 with 3:11 remaining.
Faced with having to pass the ball downfield for the first time in the game, Craven misfired on three passes and the Tornados punted with 2:46 left. Robinson gained a pair of first downs on runs of 15 and six yards, allowing the Pioneers to kneel out the clock and celebrate the victory.
Tusculum's special teams enjoyed a solid afternoon, as kicker Will Tommie hit all three of his extra points and put three of his four kickoffs in the end zone. Punter Hunter Cantrell tied his career best by averaging 47.8 yards on four punts, including a career-long 59-yard punt just before halftime. Altizer returned three punts for 67 yards (22.3 average) with all three returns of 20 yards or more.
Mitchell was the leading receiver for the Pioneers, with three catches for 24 yards. Williams added two receptions for 13 yards for Tusculum, with four players making one catch apiece. As a team, the Pioneers rushed for 143 yards on 39 attempts, with Jordon Shippy following Robinson in the backfield by accumulating 17 yards on eight carries. Jarkevius Hopkins was the second-leading rusher for the Tornados behind Craven, with 38 yards on seven carries, while Karris Williams had 37 yards on 11 attempts.
On defense, L'Keith Brown finished with a team high 13 tackles, including one sack and four tackles for losses totaling six yards. He also surpassed 200 career tackles in the game along with teammates Bartlett and Deres Benn, as they become the 17th, 18th and 19th players in program history to reach the milestone. Brandon Williams added seven tackles for the Pioneers, while Matt Simon had six stops.
For Brevard, John led the way with 15 tackles with Ashud Moore adding 10 stops. Richard Ramos had seven tackles for the Tornados, while Tylek Williams had six stops and a sack. Kevin Weber punted six times for the Tornados, but averaged just 31.5 yards per punt with a net of 20.3 yards per attempt.
Tusculum will return to action next Saturday, Oct. 8 at Wingate, with game time scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Brevard is home next week against Carson-Newman, with kickoff slated for 1 p.m.