JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The 20th-ranked Carson-Newman football team put together a 14-point fourth-quarter rally to knock off Bentley, 35-28, for its first victory of 2010 on Thursday night at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
Eagles sophomore running back Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) broke free for a 24-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 28. After C-N forced a three and out, junior running back Nate Inman (Fitzgerald, Ga.) capped a 6-play, 68-yard drive by breaking several tackles on his way to a 44-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles the lead for good at 35-28 with eight minutes remaining.
C-N’s defense halted Bentley’s next two drives to seal the win.
With the victory, the Eagles improve to 1-1 on the season, while Bentley falls to 0-1.
C-N racked up 472 yards of offense, including 313 on the ground. Baker and Inman put up identical rushing numbers to lead the way, as they each carried the ball 14 times for 107 yards. Baker finished with two scores, while Inman had one touchdown. Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) added 60 yards and a touchdown.
Eagles senior quarterback Doug Belk (Valdosta, Ga.) completed 9-of-15 passes for 159 yards and rushed for 33 yards and a score.
Bentley piled up 424 yards of offense, with 347 coming through the air. Falcons quarterback Bryant Johnson had a stellar outing to lead the way as he connected on 26-of-44 passes for 347 yards and tied a career-high with four touchdowns.
John Malone and Wade Critides were Johnson’s favorite targets on the night. Malone hauled in seven passes for 135 yards and two scores, while Critides caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Bobby Tarr rushed for 52 yards on nine carries to lead the Bentley rushing attack.
C-N struck first early in the first quarter with a four-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Belk hooked up with Marcus Huie (Knoxville, Tenn.) for a 67-yard pass play on the first play of the drive to set the Eagles up at the Bentley 5-yard line. Belk ended the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to give C-N a 7-0 lead at the 9:17 mark.
The Falcons answered with a 57-yard drive of their own to knot the contest at seven, as Johnson found Malone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 6:39 left in the quarter.
C-N fumbled on its next possession, giving Bentley the ball at the Eagle 35. The Falcons needed just five plays from there, as Johnson hit Malone for a 12-yard scoring strike to put Bentley in front 14-7.
The Eagles fired back with an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. Douglas found the end zone from 12 yards out for his first career touchdown. Matthew Gossett (White House, Tenn.) added the extra point to knot the game at 14.
A 14-yard touchdown run by Baker at the 6:13 mark of the second stanza gave C-N a 21-14 advantage, but Bentley added a pair of late touchdowns, scoring strikes of 42 and 30 yards from Johnson to Critides, to take a 28-21 lead into the half.
The teams battled through a scoreless third quarter before the Eagles rallied for two touchdowns in the final stanza to escape with a win.
C-N has next week off before returning to action at home on Thursday, Sept. 16 against Concordia-Selma. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Burke-Tarr Stadium.