Plenty of offense as Eagles down Pioneers, 48-23

By Matt Hill

   JEFFERSON CITY--It was a shootout, but the Carson-Newman Eagles had a little more artillery than their opponent on Saturday afternoon.
   Carson-Newman and Tusculum combined for 1,157 yards of total offense, but in the end the Eagles came away with a 48-23 win over the Pioneers at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
   The Eagles and the Pioneers found different ways to put up yards. The Pioneers passed for 427 yards, while the Eagles rushed for an incredible 496 yards.
   Carson-Newman wide receiver and former Elizabethton High School standout Steven Trivette thought this was a very fun game to be a part of.
   "We've got a great offense, and Tusculum had a tough defense," Trivette said. "We were really focused on making sure we had a good offense. We did that. We did a great job. Both of the offenses were great."
   This was a showdown between two of the top 25 teams in Division II. Carson-Newman came in ranked third, with Tusculum being rated No. 17.
   Carson Newman definitely played like the No. 3 team in the country on Saturday. Quarterback Leonard Guyton rushed for 136 yards, while running backs Damone Boone and Randy Bell netted 206 and 128 yards on the ground, respectively.
   Tusculum head coach Frankie DeBusk said he knew how explosive the Carson-Newman offense was.
   "I knew that coming into the game that we were playing a very high-powered offense," DeBusk said. "We have a very good defense, but I just think they did a little more on offense than we did on our end. We had some guys make some big plays, we just didn't make enough of them. We didn't tackle the dive like we were supposed to defensively, and we didn't score inside the 20 like we are supposed to offensively.
   One of those guys who made big plays for Tusculum on Saturday was Carson Bradley. The Pioneer backup quarterback was inserted into the lineup after a recent injury to Tony Colston, and all he did was go 39-of-55 for 414 yards and two touchdowns.
   "I think Carson Bradley did a wonderful job," DeBusk said. "I thought he made some big-time plays, and he was in a tough situation to play against this defense. But I thought he did great, and my hats off to him. It's a good feeling for me as a head coach to know that our backup quarterback is such a good player."
   The game didn't start as an Eagle-dominated affair. Two touchdown passes by Bradley in the opening minutes gave the Pioneers an early 13-0 advantage.
   That lead didn't last, as two touchdown runs by Randy Bell and a 73-yard scoring burst by Damone Boone sandwiched in-between gave the Eagles a 21-13 edge with 6:21 to go in the second quarter.
   A Ben Arndt field goal put Tusculum within 21-16 at the half, but touchdowns by Boone and Guyton in the opening minutes of the third quarter made it 35-16 Carson-Newman, and the Eagles never looked back.
   DeBusk knew the Eagles weren't going to give up following the two early Pioneer touchdowns.
   "I knew we were still in for a dogfight," DeBusk said. "We were playing a great football team, and we knew they weren't going to lie down on us. We had opportunities that we didn't score on. It was just one of those days."
   The outcome could have been a lot closer if the Pioneers had capitalized in the red zone. Tusculum was 2-of-6 on red zone conversions.
   "In our first six ball games, we were 90 percent inside the 20," DeBusk said. "In our last three ball games, we've been about 20 percent inside the 20. We've just got to come up with a plan, and Dieter (Brock) and I have to sit down and come up with the best solution to score some points inside the 20-yard line."
   The Pioneers drop to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Eagles remain unbeaten at 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the SAC.
   Trivette believes the sky is the limit for the Eagles.
   "It is a special season, and it is a special team," Trivette said. "We've got our eyes focused on what we want and our goals. We're looking forward to getting some wins, and maybe winning the national championship."