PEMBROKE, NC (SUBMITTED) -- UNCP held #14 Carson-Newman in check for three quarters of play and yielded just 168 yards of total offense to the perennial national powerhouse as the Braves rebounded from last week's loss on the road by dismantling 14th-ranked Carson-Newman, 30-7, on Saturday afternoon at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
Quarterback Cory Smith threw for 227 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-28 passing to lead a high-powered offense for the Braves (3-1) who were held to just 78 yards on the ground by the Eagles (2-2). Nine different receivers hauled in passes for the Black and Gold, including freshman Te'vell Williams who caught a pair of Smith tosses for 67 yards, including a 59-yard first quarter touchdown.
The Braves, which limited Carson-Newman to just 111 yards through the first three periods, were led on the defensive side of the ball by linebacker Fred Williams who registered a game-best 11 stops, including a pair of tackles for loss. Laurinburg native Adam Deese tallied five tackles, as well as third quarter interception he returned for a touchdown. Quentin Pate and Kellen Ranking each recorded interceptions for the Braves as well.
"We have tremendous respect for Carson-Newman," said UNCP head coach Pete Shinnick. "Ken Sparks is a Hall of Fame coach who has averaged nine wins a year. That's a phenomenal accomplishment. My hat's off to our guys though. They played a fantastic game and played hard for four quarters. I was excited to be a part of it."
After their initial drive stalled in Carson-Newman territory, UNCP wasted little time in setting the tone on its next possession as Smith completed a 13-yard pass to St. Anthony Lloyd before connecting with Te'vell Williams on a 59-yard touchdown pass down the near sideline. The Braves' next drive would extend into the second quarter, but produced the same results as Travis Daniels capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a 14-yard run up the middle to put the hosts up 14-0.
Rankin's interception on the ensuing drive would set the Braves up in good field position at their own 39-yard line and Smith led a 13-play march down to the Carson-Newman 6-yard line before UNCP settled for a 23-yard field goal from Taylor Baskett that stretched the advantage out to 17-0. The visiting Eagles looked to have something going on the next possession by driving down to the UNCP 19-yard line, but Matt Gossett's 35-yard field goal attempt just before the half was blocked by UNCP senior defensive lineman James Alexander.
Baskett's 37-yard field goal attempt midway through the third quarter pushed the UNCP lead out to 20-0, and the Braves all but put the game away 17 seconds later when Deese intercepted a crossing-route pass by C-N quarterback Doug Belk and took it the distance. Baskett's 48-yard field goal in the fourth period would cap the scoring for UNCP, and Carson-Newman avoided its first shutout since 1992 by scoring on an Otis Rumph 22-yard run with 2:23 left to play.
"We pride ourselves on offense at being able to do whatever the opponent gives to us," Smith said. "If you take away our passing game, we want to be able to run the ball and vice versa. I give a lot of credit to our coaches though. They came up with a great game plan and we were able to go out and execute it."
Courtesy: UNC-Pembroke athletics