Braves Fall At Carson-Newman
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Buck Wakefield rushed for 125 yards and a trio of touchdowns in his first appearance of the season and Carson-Newman made a 14-0 halftime lead stand up to hand UNCP its first loss in more than a year with a 35-22 victory over the Braves Saturday afternoon at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
The Eagles (2-2) topped the 300-yard rushing plateau for the fourth time in as many games this season and scored touchdowns on all five trips to the red zone to effectively snap the nation’s longest active winning streak at 10 games. UNCP (3-1) converted less than half (7-of-15) of their third down opportunities on the day and was held scoreless in the first half despite two trips inside Carson-Newman territory. It was the first loss for the Braves since dropping a 23-16 decision at Wingate on Sept. 12, 2008.
Quarterback Cory Smith threw for 217 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-30 passing to lead the UNCP offense, who also got 89 rushing yards (13 carries) from Travis Daniels. Jamal Williams hauled in eight catches for 80 yards to pace the receiving corps, with transfer Jamelle Banks booking his first career touchdown reception on his only catch of the day. Keith Gore ran for 37 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in his first game of the season for the Black and Gold as well.
The UNCP defense, which has made a home in the offensive backfield for a majority of each of the last 14 games, recorded one tackle for loss (Fred Williams) and went sack-less on the day against Carson-Newman’s option offense. Matthew Fortson topped the tackles column for the Braves for the second-straight game, this time tallying nine after an 11-tackle outing last week. Saturday’s contest also marked the first time in eight games that UNCP’s defense did not force a turnover.
Carson-Newman is now 73-4 at home since 1993 and have still lost just one regular season non-conference game at home since 1992 (North Alabama 20-13, 2008).
"We came out flat offensively in the first half,” said head coach Pete Shinnick. “We were able to move the ball, but we weren't able to get any points. I am disappointed that we couldn't match their 14 points in the first half. Carson-Newman did a good job of taking some things away. In the second half, we came out and moved the ball and scored points. We just didn't do it early enough."
Carson-Newman accumulated 127 yards and strung together two 50-plus yard scoring drives to put two touchdowns on the board in the first quarter, but UNCP was unable to answer despite two trips inside the hosts’ territory in the opening half. The Braves drove 36-yards in eight plays on their second possession of the game late in the first quarter, but the march stalled at the 40-yard line. Smith led the Braves on a 9-play, 47-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, but Taylor Baskett’s 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left to keep the visitors off the board again.
The Braves finally scratched the scoreboard with a 21-yard field goal by Baskett on their opening drive of the second half, but the Eagles answered with another touchdown less than three minutes later that padded their lead out to 21-3. The Braves got a 3-yard touchdown run by Gore with 1:15 left in the third and a 1-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Adrain Williams less than four minutes into the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 21-16, but Carson-Newman drove 51 and 84 yards for touchdowns on their next two possessions to put the game away.
Smith would cap off a 6-play, 74-yard scoring drive with a 16-yard scoring strike to Banks as time expired to cap the scoring on the day.
UNCP will return home again on Saturday to battle Lane (0-3) in a 6 p.m. kickoff at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
"I told our guys after the game that one loss doesn't determine our season and that we still have aspirations to keep this thing going,” Shinnick said. “One loss isn't going to take us from what our goals are and that is to keep playing. We have to make sure we take care of business now every week after this."