TC upsets Catawbain 42-35 thriller
from staff reports
GREENEVILLE -- Freddy Staton's two-yard run with 36.9 seconds left proved to be the winning score, while Eric McIntyre's interception at the goal line on the final play of the game lifted Tusculum College to a 42-35 upset win over 12th-ranked Catawba College Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field in South Atlantic Conference football action.
The Pioneers (4-4, 2-3 SAC) end a five-game losing streak to the Indians (6-2, 3-2) while avenging last year's 27-22 in Salisbury, N.C. that knocked TC out of playoff contention. Tusculum records the win before a homecoming crowd of 3,123 as the Pioneers post their first-ever win over Catawba in Greeneville in five tries.
Senior quarterback Tony Colston accounted for five touchdowns in the win, including three TD passes and a pair of scoring runs. With his three TD passes, Colston becomes the all-time passing TD leader with 35 for his career, surpassing the mark held by former All-SAC signal caller Caleb Slover (2000-01).
The Pioneers racked up 409 yards of total offense, including 340 passing yards by Colston, who tied a school single-game record with 39 completions on 49 attempts.
Colston got the Pioneers on the board first at the 6:54 mark of the first quarter when he scampered into the end zone with a four-yard run. Glen Black's (Bristol, Tenn.) extra point put TC up 7-0.
The Indians answered on their ensuing drive as senior quarterback and 2003 SAC Offensive Player of the Year Luke Samples (Elkin, N.C.) orchestrated a 9-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by Rodney Wallace's (Bamberg, S.C.) two-yard run with 2:23 left in the period. Allan Rohrbaugh (Lexington, S.C.) added the point after to tie the contest at 7-7.
Each team exchanged punts to open the second quarter, but TC's Tim Chester (McComb, Miss.) recorded his fourth interception of the season as he picked off Samples at the Catawba 32 to put the home team in business. Five plays later, Colston found pay-dirt again as he ran in from three yards out to put TC up 14-7.
But the Tribe took advantage of a Tusculum miscue as Colston fumbled when he was sacked by Catawba's Lawrence Edwards (Roseboro, N.C.), who also recovered the fumble at the TC 20 with 4:30 left before halftime. The TC defense held as Rohrbaugh knocked through a 30-yard field, but on the play TC was flagged for roughing the kicker. Catawba accepted the penalty and four plays later, Samples connected with Rod Tenor (Cooleemee, N.C.) on a four-yard scoring strike in the right-corner of the end zone with 52 seconds left before intermission. Rohrbaugh's kick knotted the game at 14-14.
On the opening offensive play of the second half, SaMario Houston (Charlotte, N.C.) picked off Colston and returned the interception 29 yards for a touchdown as the visitors took its first lead of the game at 21-14. Houston had a career outing with a game-best 17 tackles, including nine solo hits.
The Pioneers bounced back on their next possession as Colston went 4-for-4 on the drive, including his two-yard TD pass to Yoshah McDaniel (Las Vegas, Nev.) at the 9:56 mark of the third period to even the fray at 21-21.
Tusculum regained its advantage on the opening play of the fourth quarter as Colston found Jamichael Caldwell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) on a five-yard pass to move back in the lead 28-21.
Tusculum held Catawba on its next series, including a fourth-and-four play from the TC 40. The Pionees took over and moved into Tribe territory as Colston found senior Matt Riggs (Dayton, Tenn.) on a 23-yard TD pass with 10:29 left in the game move out to its biggest lead of the day at 35-21. That TD reception was Riggs' 13th of his career, setting a new TC record. The scoring pass was also the record breaker for Colston.
But the team that shared last year's SAC crown with the Pioneers wasn't done. Catawba answered Tusculum's three consecutive scores with two of its own. On the ensuing kickoff, Corey Ready (Aiken, S.C.) recorded a 48-yard return to start the Indians at the TC 47. Eight plays later, Samples completed a 13-yard pass to Mario Crowe (Charlotte, N.C.) with 8:31 remaining. Crowe scored his SAC-best 13th touchdown of the season.
Catawba's defense forced TC to punt on its next possession and tied the game at 35-35 as Samples completed an 18-yard screen pass to Ready with 5:18 remaining. Rohrbaugh's extra point was a dramatic one as it hit the left upright, but caromed across the cross bar for the tying marker.
Tusculum game-winning drive opened with six consecutive completions by Colston, including a gutsy 19-yard pass to Riggs on fourth-and-one from the Catawba 43 with two minutes left in the contest. Colston and Staton moved TC into scoring position to the 15, but consecutive penalties by Catawba, including an unsportsmanlike conduct call moved Tusculum to the CAT 2. Staton plunged through the left side of the line from two yards for the score with 36.9 seconds left.
But Catawba made a last minute charge as Samples completed passes of 29 and 31 yards to Tenor to move the Indians to the TC 20. But on the last play of the game, McIntyre intercepted Samples at the two-yard line to save the game for the Pioneers.
Colston completed passes to 10 different receivers, including Riggs who compiled 118 yards on a career-high 11 receptions.
Samples finished with 295 yards on 22-of-39 passing, including three touchdowns. Tenor posted eight catches for a game-high 168 yards.
Defensively, Shawn Harris (Jackson, S.C.) and Rodney Peebles (Sumter, S.C.) posted nine tackles each for the Pioneers, while Dustin Cox (High Point, N.C.) joined Houston in double-digit stops with 10 tackles.
The Pioneers will host Lenoir-Rhyne College next Saturday in the final home game of the season for Tusculum while Catawba returns to Shuford Stadium next week to entertain No. 21 Carson-Newman College in a SAC showdown.