BREVARD, N.C. – On a night where points were hard to come by early on, the Brevard College Tornados football team (1-0) used stout defense and a rejuvenated offense to score 27 unanswered points and shut out the visiting Christopher Newport Captains (0-3) in the second half en route to an emphatic 27-6 season-opening victory under-the-lights at Brevard Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Led by a stingy defense and a big second half from the offense that was helmed by sophomore quarterback Dalton Cole, the Tornados were able to upend the Captains in the non-conference matchup that pitted the USA South's newest member – Brevard College – against one of the conference's former members in the CNU Captains.
Brevard's defense put together four quarters of phenomenal football to hold the Captains' offense in check throughout the night. Junior Steffon Canady and sophomore Chris Diaz collected eight tackles apiece to lead BC. Canady's debut as a Tornado was a highly successful one, as the newcomer from Glendale, Ariz. tallied two sacks, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and a forced fumble. Diaz, a returning sophomore from Bethesda, Md., reached the quarterback once, had 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and collected two quarterback hurries. Brevard's ball-hawking secondary picked off the CNU quarterback duo of Jack Anderson and Brock Carnes three times, as junior defensive backs Quentin Jackson and Wesley Ross – along with freshman Antonio Williams Jr. – snagged interceptions for a Tornado defense that was tops in the USA South a year ago in fewest yards-per-game allowed.
BC's offense emerged in the second half, led by Cole's charge. The sophomore quarterback from Hendersonville, N.C. overcame a slow first half start to finish with 181 yards passing on 10-of-18, with a 58-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Cortez Scales Jr. and a game-long 74-yard pass to Brandon Norris as Cole's big highlights through the air on Saturday night.
Cole's second half was defined by his ability to maneuver out of the crowded pocked and scramble for significant positive yardage for the Tornado offense. Kickstarted by an early four-yard touchdown run at the 13:11 mark in the third quarter, Cole finished the evening with 100 yards rushing on 16 total attempts and two touchdowns, with a stadium-rocking 45-yard touchdown scamper being the rushing highlight for the Tornado QB.
"Dalton Cole took that team on his back and made certain that we won this ballgame," commented Head Coach Bill Khayat on Cole's second-half performance. "We have a guy who will take this team on his back and power through whatever is in front of him to make certain that there was no way that we were going to fall short tonight."
Both teams traded their first two possessions of the contest, as both of CNU's first drives in the first quarter ended with punts, while BC's first two possessions ended in a fumble and a punt.
The Captains got on the scoreboard first when Dylan Curran drilled a 45-yard field goal to give Christopher Newport the lead, 3-0 late in the first quarter.
Curran struck again as the Captains cashed in a 13-play, 41-yard drive that chewed over six minutes off the clock into a 27-yard field goal, extending their lead to a 6-0 margin.
Despite the slow offensive start in the first half that featured the Tornados punt the ball five times and turn the ball over twice, the first half ended on a positive note when BC blocked a Curran field goal attempt to end the first half. CNU took a slim 6-0 advantage into the break.
"Both of these teams are extremely well-coached," stated Coach Khayat on the halftime adjustments made during the victory. "Brevard College – outstanding coaches – and Christopher Newport, you can see in their history with their winning. While the coaches are having their 'chess match' in the locker rooms, now the players are on the field battling it out. The best phrase that I can use is 'will to win.' That is what our guys did tonight and they would not be denied."
The Tornados wasted no time jump-starting their offense in the second half, as a four-play, 84-yard drive highlighted by the Cole-to-Norris 74-yard connection and Cole's four-yard touchdown scamper tied the game at 6-6.
Both sides traded possessions with punts, but following a CNU punt, the Tornados' offense struck again. Featuring two newcomer running backs, Brevard turned in a two-play, 66-yard drive. Freshman Gerald Hines took off for a 37-yard gain that was followed right up with a 29-yard touchdown run by freshman Damon Rouse to give Brevard its first lead of the contest, 13-6.
Brevard's Ross secured BC's first forced turnover of the game on the very next play, picking off Anderson to give the Tornados the ball back.
Although Brevard couldn't turn Ross' pick into points, Jackson came through for Brevard on the very next drive, as Anderson threw his second interception in as many drives into the arms of the 2018 USA South All-Conference First Team selection. Cole connected with Scales Jr. on the game's very next play to push Brevard's lead up further, 20-6.
The Captains' turnover woes continued when freshman linebacker Williams Jr. batted down and picked off Carnes' pass, as Brevard secured its third forced turnover in as many drives.
At the 4:45 mark in the game's final quarter, the Tornados strung together a five-play, 60-yard drive that was finished off by Cole's second rushing touchdown of the game and third overall - an electric 45-yard gallop that all but sealed Brevard's big victory over Christopher Newport, 27-6.
The Tornados football team will return to action next Saturday, September 28 at 5 p.m. when Brevard visits Columbia, S.C. to square off against Allen University (1-0) in a rematch of last season's finale that the Tornados took by a final score of 46-10.
To follow the latest news and updates surrounding Brevard College Athletics, follow the Tornados on Twitter and Instagram @bctornados, subscribe to 'Brevard College Tornados' on YouTube, follow 'Brevard College Tornados' on SoundCloud, or like Brevard College Athletics on Facebook. Be sure to follow "brevardcollege" on Flickr for the latest photos from all Brevard College events.