Tornados win "Mud Bowl" over Catawba, 7-6
Ray returns blocked punt in for score as Brevard improves to 7-3
Brevard, N.C. - Several Tornados burst through the line of scrimmage with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and launched their way into the path of Colby McKanna’s punt, blocking it to the turf before junior defensive lineman Richard Ray scooped up the ball and rumbled in from 12 yards out to give the Tornados the come-from-behind 7-6 win over Catawba on Senior Day.
Brevard (7-3, 3-3 SAC) was unable to move the ball throughout the game as the constant rain and pounding Brevard Memorial Stadium took during the week turned the field into a mud pit, gaining only 88 yards total offense in the game, with fullback Neville Bryce gaining the majority of those yards with 43 yards on 10 carries.
Michael Crumbaker, back after missing a game due to surgery, suited up and carried the ball 11 times for 12 yards and threw a shovel pass to fullback Derek Church as the Tornados offense focused on not turning the ball over in the game and allowing the battle for field position and the Tornados defense to take control.
Stanley Jones broke the 100 tackle barrier that had eluded him so far in his collegiate career in the first half on his way to 16 tackles on the game, with two coming behind the line of scrimmage. Prince Simunyu added nine tackles and three for loss, while Brandon Rawls and Chris Lumbu continued the Tornados 12-game sack streak, dropping Daniel Griffith in the fourth quarter on Catawba’s last drive, before Donald Hudson picked off his second pass of the season on the Tornados seven-yard line to seal the win.
Catawba's (4-5, 1-5 SAC) offense found the going difficult in the game as well, fighting both the Tornados stiff defense and the mud, which at times was caked up to the players ankles, but managed to out-gain the Tornados, more than doubling Brevard with 175 yards in the game, with 73 coming through the air.
Running back Levon Curtis carried the ball 21 times for 85 yards for the Indians offense, while Antonio Hall added 33 on 12 carries to move the Catawba offense up the field.
Catawba did not attempt a pass through most of the first quarter before their last drive when Pat Dennis found Brandon Bunn in the middle of the end zone for a nine-yard scoring strike. Dennis finished the game six of 12 with one touchdown for 68 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cory Johnson had 10 stops in the game and the Indians racked up six tackles for loss in the ball game. Terrence Jones stopped a Tornados drive in the third quarter with an interception on a Crumbaker pass as the Indians held the Tornados rushing attack, coming into the game ranked #7 in the nation, under 100 yards for the third time this season.
The first quarter was a series of three-and-outs as the teams’ punters attempted to keep the offenses in check. Brevard sophomore Eric Watts pinned the Indians inside their 10-yard line twice in the first quarter with directional kicks in averaging 31.6 yards per attempt on the afternoon.
Catawba broke the string of three-and-outs in the second quarter when Curtis took off on a 22-yard scamper down the left sideline for just the second-first down of the game. However, the Indians drive stalled at the Brevard 45-yard line and Catawba was forced to punt.
On Brevard’s next punt attempt, Gerron Bryant picked up the ball before the Tornados could down it and returned it back to the Brevard 36.
Eight plays later on fourth-and-goal, Dennis dropped back and found Bunn in the end zone for the first score of the game. Thomas Trexler came in to attempt the extra-point and pushed the extra-point wide, leaving Catawba to go into the half up 6-0.
Catawba picked up the first first-down of the second half in their third drive, moving the ball up to the Brevard 21 before Daniel Griffith fumbled the snap, where it was recovered by Brevard’s Andrew Barrentine, stalling the drive.
The Indians threatened again on their next possession, starting the drive on the BC 14-yard line after Curtis returned the Watts’ punt 35 yards, but the defense again stood strong and Dwayne White knocked the pass to Julian Hartsell away on fourth-down to force the turnover.
The punters swapped kicks on the next two possessions before Watts hammered his best offering of the afternoon, booting the ball 44 yards before it was swallowed up by the field on the Catawba 26.
Four plays later, after a Catawba fumbled snap moved the ball back to the 22, the Tornados came through the punt team and swarmed the kick, sending it back into the mud before Ray picked it up and carried it the 12 yards needed to tie the game up at 6 with 5:33 on the clock. The snap to Hudson and the hold were perfect as Chase Henry drilled the kick through the uprights to give the Tornados the one-point lead.
Catawba took the ensuing kickoff and started their drive on their 41-yard line. Dennis moved the Indians into Brevard territory, taking the team to a third-and-one on the Brevard 26 before the ball slipped out of his hand, floating in the middle of the field where it was snatched by Hudson.
The Tornados offense ran out the clock to finish out their home schedule with the win, 7-6.
Brevard finishes up the 2009 regular season on Saturday, November 7th, as they travel to Newberry, S.C. to take on Newberry College. Kickoff between the teams is set for 7 p.m. Catawba returns home to Salisbury, N.C. for their final game of the season next Saturday as they host Lenoir-Rhyne, with game time set for 1:30 p.m.