Carson-Newman pounds Highland Cavs 42-7

VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview

VIDEO: Highlights

VIDEO: Troy Dendy Interview

VIDEO: Derrick Evans interview

VIDEO: Darius Williams Interview

VIDEO: Jacob Varney Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-1, 1-1 South Atlantic Conference) gave up the first score of the day, but then used an irresistible force of a rushing attack and an immovable object of a defense to overwhelm UVa-Wise (1-3, 0-2 SAC) with 42 unanswered points in a 42-7 shellacking of  the first-year SAC program Saturday afternoon at a sun-soaked Burke-Tarr Stadium.

Carson-Newman rolled up 464 yards rushing and 557 yards of total offense en route to a sixth consecutive victory over first-year SAC opposition.  The 464 yards rushing are the second most by an NCAA Division II school this year.  Eastern New Mexico rushed for 472 yards against Missouri S&T in a 35-28 win on Sept. 7. 

"They felt the same sense of urgency I felt," head football coach Mike Turner said. "We talked first of the week about first down production and attacking the chains with a four-yard mentality.  Everything today got after it and we attacked well.  I messed us up on a couple calls late in the second quarter, but our kids played extremely hard, and I'm grateful to our staff and our kids for their performance today. The things we said we needed to get better at, we got better."

Of Carson-Newman's 464 yards, 313 of them came on first down.  The Eagles averaged 9.8 yards a carry on first-down rushing attempts and had a 6.9 yard per carry average for the game across 12 different ball carriers. 

Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) headlined the offense.  He was 4-for-8 through the air for 74 yards and two scores.  Furthermore, he reset his career high for rushing yards with his third career 100-yard game. Evans loped out a career-high 137 yards on 20 carries and a seven-yard option keeper for a TD. 

Eight different players had at least one 10-yard rush.  Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) added in 75 yards on three carries, including a 54-yard score, while Toot Johnson (Rincon, Ga.) had 68 yards on 12 carries.

Troy Dendy (Laurens, S.C.) was the fourth and final player with more than 50 yards rushing for the Eagles, he had 53 yards on six carries and two scores. 

"In a game like that, you can be in great condition and still be exhausted," Turner said. "They completely gave themselves up today.  I'm so proud of their effort and enthusiasm today."

As stout as the Eagles offense was, the defense was equally as impressive. Carson-Newman held a team under 200 yards of total offense for the first time since limiting Virgina-Lynchburg to 191 yards on Oct. 20 last year.  The Highland Cavaliers had 195 yards of total offense, and just 68 yards on the ground. 

"Our kids played hard defensively," Turner said. "UVA-Wise gave us some wrinkles.  We missed some tackles and we had too many penalties.  However, the kids played with unrelenting effort and it showed." 

Carson-Newman's defense roared to life after UVa-Wise lit the lamp on its third possession. 

After an interception, UVA-Wise moved down the field on nine plays, the final 22 yards of a 71-yard drive came when Shaheim Revel took a screen pass 22 yards to the house to put UVa-Wise up 7-0 with 4:28 left in the second quarter.  The Cavs had 85 yards of offense at that point, they would gain just 110 yards the rest of the game. 

The Eagles forced the Highland Cavaliers off the field six times with a three-and-out and twice more with interceptions.  Desmond Fairell tied Joe Fishback for sixth on the all-time list with his 13th career pick, while Darius Williams (St. Petersburg, Fla.) ensnared his seventh career pick. 

Carson-Newman rattled off a 42-0 run to close the game. 

The Eagles tied the game the very next possession.  Romain Kelly (Spartanburg, S.C.) capped a six-play, 65-yard drive in 2:36 by hauling in a 29-yard pass from Evans along the right sideline in front of the pylon.  C-N leveled it up with 1:43 on the first quarter clock.

The Eagles would take the lead with 7:02 left in the second. UVa-Wise looked poised to retake the lead with the ball at the C-N 19, but a pass bounced in and out of the hands of Cavalier receiver Eli Marks.  Williams pilfered it and ran 79 yards the other before being brought down at the Wise seven. 

Two plays later, Evans gave the Eagles the lead for good with a seven-yard option keeper around right tackle. 

C-N would make it a two score game before the break. After forcing a Cavalier three-and-out, Williams gallivanted 54 yards on a dive play to the right of center to stretch the advantage to 21-7 4:11 before the break. 

The second half was all Eagles. C-N scored on its first three drives of the stanza while UVa-Wise only mustered 71 yards of total offense and 1.3 yards per rush after halftime.

Carson-Newman opened the half with a 28-yard touchdown pass over double coverage to Braxton Westfield (Simpsonville, S.C.), who scored his fourth touchdown of the year on his fourth straight reception. 

However, it was the next possession that proved to be the game sealer.  Carson-Newman chewed up 8:09 of clock for its longest scoring drive in the last six years.  A whopping 18 plays and 89 yards, Dendy powered into the end zone with a superman dive from three yards away for his first career score. 

"We went formation with two tight ends to balance them up," Turner said. "We were giving our quarterback enough time to make checks.  The kids executed. It was so great to see kids running behind their pads and expecting things to happen."

Dendy would find paydirt again with 10:23 left in the game on an 18-yard jaunt around right guard to set the final margin at 42-7. 

Darius Williams led Carson-Newman's defense with 12 tackles, two for loss and the pick he returned 79 yards to set up a score.

"We made calls to have Darius be a run stopper," Turner said. "We had calls today to have eight in the box. To do that, you've got to have a safety down.  We needed that to have him play the stretch.  I sat in that hole and made play after play."

Damarkus Jones also had eight tackles, while Rondrow Peebles (Knoxville, Tenn.) added in eight stops with 0.5 tackles for loss. Jacob Varney (White Pine, Tenn.) had a strip sack and a fumble recovery.  

Buster Henderson led the Cavs defense with nine tackles and a tackle for loss.

Garrett Cropp led the Cavaliers horizontal passing game, completing 16-of-30 passes for 76 yards and a score.  Eli Marks was his most productive target, catching three passes for 27 yards. 

J'Quan Anderson was the top rusher for the Cavs. He had 28 yards on 10 carries. 

Carson-Newman plays its second straight game at home Oct. 5 against UNC Pembroke. Kickoff with the Braves is slotted for 1 p.m. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network starting at noon with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at 

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