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Joseph rushes for 123 yards and three TDs in Tusculum's win over Shorter

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GREENEVILLE, Tenn - Max Joseph rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns while freshman kicker Isaac Gallegos tied a school single-game record with four field goals in Tusculum's 39-12 win over visiting Shorter University Saturday night at Pioneer Field.

The Pioneers (1-1) amassed 489 yards offensively, while the Tusculum defense limited the Hawks (0-2) to 160 yards on the night, including 34 yards rushing.

Tusculum quarterback Alex Ogle passed for 258 yards going 17-of-32. His top target was Evan Altizer as he became the 20 th player in school history to record 1,000 receiving yards in his career. He finished the game with four catches for 65 yards, giving him 1,046 yards as a Pioneer. He also tallied 56 yards on his six punt returns, which are the second most returns in a TC single-game.

Tusculum jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first half thanks to a pair of Joseph TD runs and three field goals from Gallegos.

The Pioneers cashed in on its opening possession moving 70 yards in 12 plays and got a 37-yard field goal from Gallegos for an early 3-0 Tusculum lead. The score remained that way until early in the second quarter when Shorter went three plays and out and were forced to punt from its own end zone. Altizer returned the punt 32 yards to the SU 25. Joseph wasted little time as he scamper in on the first play from scrimmage for a 25-yard touchdown. Gallegos' extra point made it 10-0 Tusculum with 12:50 left in the half.

After another three-and-out by the Hawks, Tusculum took over at its own 37. A 10-yard run by Joseph and back-to-back completions of 19 and 23 yards from Ogle to Altizer moved the ball to the SU 11. But the Pioneers were unable to punch it in as Gallegos drilled the 25-yarder to extend the TC led to 13-0 with 8:10 left in the quarter.

The TC defense walled up again forcing another Shorter punt as the Pioneers took over near midfield. The Pioneers capitalized as Ogle completed a 16-yard pass to Altizer to get to the SU 26 and Jordan Shippy reeled off a 24-yard run to the two-yard line. Two plays later, Joseph ran in from one-yard out to move the lead to 20-0 with 3:27 to go before the intermission.

Shorter marched down the field to put up its first score of the game as quarterback Tyler Pullum found Elijah Gilbert on a seven-yard pass as he extended across the goal line. The kick by Brady Hammel was no good as the boot caromed off the right upright as the Hawks trailed 20-6 with 25 seconds left.

The Pioneers took over at their own 25 with two timeouts remaining. Lor'renzo Pratt rushed 18 yards to the TC 43 where the Pioneers called a timeout with 18 seconds to go. Rodnell Cruell hauled in an acrobatic catch at the SU 37 for a 20-yard gain with 11 seconds left following a TC timeout. Ogle found Evan Gates on the right sideline for an 18-yard completion with just seconds to go. Gallegos came on and connected on the clutch 37-yard field goal as time expired giving TC a 23-6 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, Altizer returned a punt 24 yards to the SU 25 as Joseph ran the ball three straight times, covering 10, 8 and capped off with a 7-yard touchdown run for a 30-6 advantage.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Hawks got a 42-yard return from Barnett Bailey to get to the SU 44. Shorter drove to the TC 15 but Jay Boyd forced a fumble, which was recovered by Dee Alford for his second fumble recovery of the year.

TC took advantage and drove to the SU 20 before Gallegos tied the school record with his 38-yarder with 2:54 left in the third.

Shorter took advantage of Ogle's first interception of the year returning the pick to the TC three-yard line. Three plays later Austin Fellows scored on a one-yard carry as the Hawks trailed 33-12.

Freshman Hunter Weismere completed a 39-yard TD pass to Keondre Banks with 21 seconds left to cap the scoring for the Pioneers at 39-12.

Gallegos' four field goals tied the school record, previously posted by Paul Czerniak against Livingstone in 2000 and Gareth Rowlands two 4-field goal efforts against Gardner-Webb in 2008 and Catawba in 2010.

Gallegos also finished the game with 15 points which are the second-most in Tusculum history, three shy of the 18 scored by Rowlands in the 2010 Catawba game.

Defensively, L'Keith Brown and Ivan Hogans made five tackles each, including one for loss apiece. Widchard Guervil added four stops, including a pair of sacks.

Shorter's Weldrin Ford rushed for 54 yards on his 13 carries, while Tyler Pullum went 12-of-19 for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Tusculum returns to action next Saturday night when they travel to Limestone College to open South Atlantic Conference play. Limestone is beginning its first season as an associate member in football. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Gaffney, South Carolina.

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