Catawba Upsets #10 Carson-Newman Behind Defense and Arm of O’Brien
“See it through.”
This is the team motto for Catawba football this season, as voted on by the team.
The term means that the mission, objective, or assignment must be completed, regardless of the situation or circumstances. On Saturday afternoon, despite missing three extra points and losing the turnover battle 4-0, Catawba stormed into Burke-Tarr Stadium at Carson-Newman and pulled out the biggest football win in recent memory, defeating them 25-22 after a wild final five minutes that included a missed field goal by Carson-Newman that could have sent this one into overtime.
The game did not start off so well for Catawba, as Carson-Newman drove down the field on their first possession to score a touchdown and take the lead, 7-0. After a Catawba fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Carson-Newman had the ball deep in Catawba territory once again. However, this is where the defense of the Indians began their game-long trend of containing the Eagles’ offense. The D stopped the Eagles on four straight downs inside the 10, giving the team a much needed lift and the offense the ball back at the one-inch line.
The offense was able to switch field position on that drive and after a three-and-out by Carson-Newman, quarterback Danny O’Brien connected with freshman receiver Carlos Tarrats for a 13-yard TD pass on the following drive, making the score 7-6. Catawba would drive the length of the field on the next drive to the 1, where O’Brien would punch it in for the 13-7 lead. Runningback David Burgess caught a pass, broke a tackle, and scampered up the sideline for a 50-yard gain on the drive.
After going into halftime 13-10, Catawba’s offense looked flat in the third quarter. However, the defense was able to limit C-N to three field goals in the second and third quarters, with their backs against the wall several times.
In the fourth quarter is when things finally began to pick up. After a 18-yard punt return by cornerback Terrence Williams, O’Brien through a perfect ball to receiver Quan Rucker down the sideline that set up a 7-yard TD run by Burgess, making the score 19-16. Carson-Newman took the ensuing kickoff deep into Catawba territory before scoring their second touchdown of the day, taking the lead back, 22-19.
In previous years, this is where the Indians would have given in and called it quits. However, this is a different Catawba team with a different mindset that has been instilled by head coach Curtis Walker and his staff.
On fourth and 10 from their own 12, the offensive line gave O’Brien enough time to make an NFL-like throw to receiver Bruce Smith for an 18-yard completion to move the chains. After hitting receiver Nate Charest for 13 more yards, tight end Tyler Hamilton, who made a one-handed highlight-reel catch in the second quarter, made another huge catch, breaking several tackles for a 45-yard gain, down to the Eagles’ 12.
After a penalty and fumble, Tarrats beat the zone coverage by the safety and O’Brien laid the ball over the top for their TD connection of the day, giving the Indians 25-22 after missing their third extra point of the day. Carson-Newman would get to the Catawba 22 before missing a field goal wide left that would have sent the game into overtime, giving Catawba the upset and win.
O’Brien had a season-high 444 yards passing, the third highest total in school history with Burgess and Tarrats contributing with 98 and 97 yards receiving respectively. Carson-Newman (3-1, 1-1) averaged over 350 yards rushing a game, but the Indians D held them to 252 yards on the ground. Linebackers Jason Taylor and Jacob Hanes had 16 and 10 tackles each, while safety LJ McCray had 12 tackles and three pass break ups.
Catawba (3-1, 1-1) had not beaten the Eagles since 2007 and with a win like this, the Indians might have not only turned their season around, but also their program.
Catawba will be heading back to Tennessee this weekend for a 1:30 kickoff against conference foe Tusculum.