Tusculum opens with 44-0 rout of Crusaders

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   TUSCULUM -- The Tusculum Pioneer football team should have been served doughnuts after Thursday night's game with North Greenville (S.C.) College. That's the shape of the number the Crusaders scored in the contest.
   The Pioneer defense held North Greenville to 141 yards en route to pitching a 44-0 shutout at Pioneer Field in the season opener for both schools.
   "Defensively, I thought we played sound the whole football game," Tusculum head coach Frankie DeBusk said.
   Tusculum football under Coach DeBusk has always been known for its offense. But while the offense struggled most of the first half, the Pioneer defense stepped up and made plays.
   North Greenville had just 52 yards rushing on the night, and the Crusaders only entered the red zone one time.
   "I think we've got some great players on defense," DeBusk said. "The biggest thing we have is how well we run, and the speed we have regardless of who's playing at any position. Defensively, we played phenomenal tonight. Hopefully, that's a sign of things to come on that side of the ball."
   On offense, Tusculum struggled in the early going. Carson Bradley started the game at quarterback for the Pioneers, but was yanked in the early going.
   The Pioneers were only leading 6-0 in the second quarter when Tony Colston came into quarterback. Colston put Tusculum on the board in the final seconds of the period with a 16-yard touchdown run to give Tusculum a 13-0 lead at the half.
   The second half was a much different story, as both quarterbacks ended up producing.
   Bradley came back in during the third quarter, and completed seven of his final nine passes.
   Bradley also had a 24-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Thompson to make the game 20-0.
   Colston re-entered the game late in the third quarter with the Pioneers up 27-0, and he capped off a successful drive on the first play of the final period with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Jones to give Tusculum a commanding 34-0 edge.
   The starters were pulled at that point, and the Pioneers breezed the rest of the way.
   The Pioneers have decided to play two quarterbacks, and DeBusk was happy with how they both rebounded from slow starts.
   "I think they're both still really good players," DeBusk said. "One scrimmage Carson would do better than Tony, the next scrimmage Tony would do better than Carson. And tonight I think they both played about the same. I can't really vouch for who played the best. They both got us into the end zone at times, and they both didn't get it in the end zone at times. At this point it's hard to say, I'm just very happy they found a way to win a game."
   Said Bradley: "You can throw curve balls like that, that's the beauty of having two quarterbacks. I think in the second half we came out and got it done."
   Running backs Kenya Deese and Divine Peters had the other two touchdowns for Tusculum. Five different players wound up hitting the end zone for the Pioneers.
   North Greenville's losing streak is now at 22 games, but DeBusk admitted that the Crusaders are a totally different team under new head coach Brian Smith.
   "They're a lot better football team than I expected," DeBusk said. "Brian Smith's done a great job already."
   The Pioneers, who are ranked No. 21 nationally in NCAA Division II, will travel to Tennessee-Martin next Thursday.
   PIONEER NOTES
   * With punt returns of 54 and 50 yards, Tusculum's Marvin Kelly set a record for the most put return yards in a game by a Pioneer.
   * Due to a power outage in the Greene County area, the game was moved from 6 p.m. up to 5 p.m. The postgame fireworks show was put on hold until it got dark.