Tusculum rolls past Newberry

STAR Staff

   GREENEVILLE - After winning one of the biggest games in Tusculum College school history two weeks ago against Carson-Newman, the Pioneers continued on in their successful ways as they defeated their conference foe the Newberry Indians by the score of 42-12 on Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
   The game held true meaning as it was dedicated in memory of volleyball standout Jill Lucas, who was an outstanding student-athlete that earned respect from all that knew her.
   The Pioneers (7-1, 4-1 SAC) knocked off Newberry (4-5, 0-5 SAC) in Southern Athletic Conference play to guarantee them their second straight winning season and the team's best start in school history.
   "I thought we started off a little slow," Tusculum coach Frank DeBusk said. "I talked to my team all week about dominating the phases of the game, and I think eventually we came together as a team and started playing really well."
   With the fourth best defense in the conference, Newberry came out strong and holding Tusculum to just 14 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
   With two field goals by B.J. Griffin from 41 and 23 yards out the Indians held an early 6-0 lead, but after a couple of key defensive stops the Pioneer offense woke up and started rolling.
   With 12:57 left to play in the half Tusculum runningback Aaron Claridy, who was the SAC player of the week two weeks ago, put his team on the board with an impressive 31-yard run and giving the Pioneers a 7-6 lead.
   "We had a week off," DeBusk said. "I thought we just needed to get back into the groove of things. We looked a little sluggish on both sides of the ball but it just took some time to get going."
   Tusculum tacked on two more touchdowns before the half as senior quarterback Caleb Slover ran one in from three yards out and later throwing a 62 yard strike to wide receiver Jason Nance to give the Pioneers a 21-6 advantage.
   "We came out slow," Slover said of the first half. "We talked about it and really turned it up in the second half."
   At this point Slover had passed for 182 yards while completing 10 of 21 passes while his counter partner Spencer Dearybury of Newberry was 7 for 15 with 100 yards passing.
   "I think Caleb has played great in the last three ball games," DeBusk said of his quarterback. "I'm excited that he's able to do the things that he's done for us. Our offensive line is phenomenal and we have a great runningback (Claridy) which makes it easier on us when we throw the football."
   With the beginning of the second half underway, the Tusculum defense continued to shutdown the Newberry offense and holding them to just one score in the half.
   "I think we ran to the ball exceptionally well on defense," DeBusk said. "We tried to emphasize that all week long. We've gotten better each week and after looking at the film we'll see if we got better this week."
   One of the key players for the Tusculum defense being so strong was defensive back Sam Foster. In the game Foster gathered two interceptions, including one at the goal line to keep the Indians from scoring, and helped shut down the Newberry passing game.
   "I've been working with the scout team this week and they really helped me out alot," Foster said. " I was reading the ball really well."
   Slover put Tusculum on top by 28-6 with another touchdown pass this time to Kevin Wolcott who hauled it in for a 24 yard score.
   Claridy, who carried the ball just four times in the game, made the most out of his runs as he trotted in for his second touchdown of the game and providing the Pioneers with a 35-6 lead.
   "I think Claridy is one of the best runningbacks in the country in Division two," said. DeBusk. "He's small and stature, but he has great athletic ability, great balance and great skills in the backfield. I'm just excited about the things that he brings to the table for us."
   Newberry finally received their first touchdown of the day as runningback Chad Tackett plowed through the Tusculum defense for an eight yard run to make it a 35-12 ballgame.
   Slover capped off another career day when he connected with Bobby Thompson for an eight yard pass as Thompson recorded his first score of the day and lifting his team to a 42-12 stomping over the Indians.
   With the win Tusculum sets a new single season record for home wins with five as the Pioneers prepare for Presbyterian college next week.
   For the Pioneers, Slover was tops as he completed 18-of-30 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Claridy carried the ball four times for 71 yards and two touchdowns while teammates Wolcott (6 rec, 69 yds, 1 TD) and Jonathan Brewer (6 rec, 48 yds.) led that way for Tusculum.
   Newberry's Drearybury finished out the day with 210 yards passing while completing 16-37 passes while Tackett rushed for 124 yards on 20 carries to contribute to the Indian's cause.