Tusculum drops 23-7 home loss to Lenoir-Rhyne
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - Lenoir-Rhyne's Nelson Brown rushed for 256 yards on 30 carries including two touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 23-7 South Atlantic Conference road win at Tusculum Saturday night at Pioneer Field. Brown nearly matched his career-high 261-yard performance he totaled in last year's meeting against the Pioneers (2-3, 0-2 SAC). The 256 yards on Saturday is the fourth-best rushing performance in Lenoir- Rhyne history. The Bears (2-3, 1-3 SAC) racked up 356 offensive yards, including 262 on the ground. Tusculum was held to 257 yards, including 49 of the rushing variety. Lenoir-Rhyne forced a pair of TC turnovers with both resulting in to scores for the visitors. Tusculum quarterback Alex Ogle went 21-for-33 for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while being sacked on three occasions. His top target was Evan Gates who posted a career-highs with 11 receptions for 118 yards, including a touchdown. The Bears jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first half. On the first offensive play of the game, TC running back Maxwell Joseph was stripped of the football by Denzal Gilmore and was recovered by Sherrod Williams at the TC 33. L-R quarterback Jarrod Kellar completed a 15-yard pass to Jaquay Mitchell to get to the TC 19. The drive stalled there as kicker Chase Allbaugh came on and drilled a 37-yard field goal to give L-R a 3-0 lead with 12:46 left in the opening quarter. Tusculum took its second possession into L-R territory before stalling at the 24-yard line. Kicker Jose Esparza's 41-yard field went wide left. In the second quarter, the Bears punched through when Brown sprinted for a 46-yard run to the TC 28. Kellar later found Sam Camargo for a 15-yard touchdown completion to give the Bears a 10-0 lead with 6:58 left before halftime. The Pioneers got a 39-yard return from Jay Boyd on the ensuing kickoff to take over at the 50-yard line. An Ogle 12-yard pass to Gates got TC to the L-R 38, but TC was later whistled for holding and the Pioneers would be forced to punt. Hunter Cantrell's punt was down at the four-yard line by senior long snapper Ian O'Grady. But on the next play, Brown got into the defensive secondary and rumbled 91 yards to the TC 5 for the longest run from scrimmage in Pioneer Field history. Brown finished off the drive with a two-yard run and capped it off with a three-yard TD lunge for a 16-0 Lenoir-Rhyne with 2:38 left before intermission. Tusculum showed some offensive life heading into the locker room as the Pioneers marched 72 yards in 10 plays, including an Ogle to Gates 17-yard TD pass with 12 seconds left on the clock. Esparza's kick made it 16-7 at the half. Midway through the third quarter, Kellar was picked off by Boyd, who returned the interception to the L-R 47. The Pioneers got to the L-R 3 and faced fourth-and-goal from there. Esparza came on to try a 20-yard field goal but his kick was blocked at the line by Dan Louba to keep it a two-possession game. Tusculum stopped the Bears early in the fourth quarter, forcing a punt and took over at their own 13. Ogle completed a 13-yard pass by tight end Gary Breuklander. But on the next play, Ogle was intercepted by Duane Bland who returned the pick 11 yards to the TC 19. Brown put the game away with a 19-yard touchdown for his second TD of the game and fourth of the season. Defensively, Tusculum's Malik Goodman led all players with 11 tackles, while L'Keith Brown posted eight stops. Brown has 283 tackles in his TC career and takes over sole possession of sixth place in program history. Tusculum's Dee Alford accounted for four tackles with two pass break-ups and his team leading third interception of the season. Of Tusculum's 16 takeaways this season, Alford has been involved with seven of them. Lenoir-Rhyne was led by Denzal Gilmore's nine tackles, including three pass break-ups and a forced fumble. In the 21st all-time meeting, Lenoir-Rhyne takes an 11-10 edge in the series, including wins in the last six years. Tusculum returns to action next Saturday when they host cross-mountain rival Mars Hill for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Pioneer Field.