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Carson-Newman wins rain-soaked battle over Tusculum, 27-7

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JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Carson-Newman took advantage of three interceptions, converting them into 20 points as the Eagles defeated rival Tusculum 27-7 on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Burke-Tarr Stadium.

The Eagles (6-3, 4-2 South Atlantic Conference) totaled 306 yards, all on the ground, while limiting the Pioneers (4-5, 2-4 SAC) to 109 total yards as both teams found it difficult to hold onto the football, resulting into 13 combined fumbles with Carson-Newman losing three of them on the ground.

C-N's Diantae Thomas and Jared Dillingham rushed for 121 and 106 yards, respectively, while quarterback Derrick Evans rans for 65 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him a SAC-leading dozen on the year.

Running back Jordon Shippy, the hero of last year's 31-30 overtime win over Carson-Newman, rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries and had 25 yards on his two receptions for a team-best 103 all-purpose yards, all in the first half.

Tusculum quarterback Alex Ogle went 5-of-14 for 36 yards, was sacked four times, fumbled on five occasions and threw a season-worst three interceptions.

The first pick came in the first quarter when Temoris Coats came up with the interception and returned it 27 yards to the TC 15. Four plays later, Evan punched it in from a yard out for the touchdown. Elijah Holbert's extra-point made it 7-0 with 2:34 left in the quarter.

Ogle was intercepted on the next possession as Desmond Fairell came up with the pick and sprinted 62 yards to the Tusculum 32. Four rushes later, Evans scored his second TD of the half, rushing in from four yards out. Holbert's kick was no good as C-N led 13-0 with 11:46 left before halftime.

Tusculum responded with its best offensive drive of the afternoon, converting on third down once and Ogle completed a 12-yard pass to Shippy on fourth down and seven to get to the C-N 18-yard line. The drive stalled at the C-N 14 but Gabe Shillings 32-yard field goal try sailed wide left.

The Pioneer defense stepped up and forced a C-N punt. But the snap to Holbert was high and rolled into the end zone with Timmy Pratt recovering in the end zone for the score. Shillings kick trimmed the deficit to 13-7 with 4:36 to go before the intermission. The score was the fourth defensive touchdown by the Pioneers this season.

Tusculum looked to have the momentum as TC came up with another takeaway when Josh Forrest forced and recovered a C-N fumble at the Eagles 40 with 1:27 on the clock. But Tusculum could not take advantage and headed to the locker room trailing by seven.

Heavy rains continued to fall in a scoreless fourth quarter. Tusculum punted four times, while Carson-Newman kicked twice, turned the ball over on downs and also fumbled.

C-N started the fourth quarter at its own five-yard line. The Eagles got out of the shadow of its end zone with a Dillingham 42-yard run on the first play of the drive and Thomas capped off the possession with his 37-yard touchdown scamper to extend the lead to 20-7 with 12:41 left in the game.

Carson-Newman put the game out of reach two plays later when Ogle was intercepted by Darius Williams who returned the pick for a 58-yard touchdown and a 27-7 lead with 11:15 on the clock.

TC went three plays and out on its next possession and were forced to punt. Carson-Newman never gave up the ball from then as the Eagles ran 17 plays, covered 78 yards and milked the final 10:12 off the clock to end the game.

The Eagles didn't record a pass completion in the game as C-N ran the ball 59 times.

Tusculum punter Hunter Cantrell established a new program record in becoming TC's all-time leader in career punting yards with 9,331, surpassing the previous mark held by John Gregory (9,120 from 2006-09). Cantrell averaged 40.3 yards on his seven punts, including three kicks inside the C-N 20-yard line.

Defensively, L'Keith Brown led all tacklers with his season-high 13 stops, including one for loss and his eighth career forced fumble, which is tied for third-most in school history. His 326 career tackles are one shy of moving into third place all-time in the Tusculum record book. Forrest finished the game with a career-high 10 tackles in the loss.

The Pioneers will have a bye week next Saturday and will close out the season on Nov. 11 when they host nationally-ranked Wingate for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff from Pioneer Field.

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