Eagles pick up bizarre 45-28 win over Shorter
ROME, Ga. – No. 18 Carson-Newman (5-1) forced Shorter (0-6) into six three-and-outs, but also allowed four touchdowns that covered a combined 250 yards in a wild 45-28 win for Carson-Newman at Barron Stadium.
The win is the Eagles first over Shorter and their sixth in Barron Stadium.
Carson-Newman forced four turnovers to, in part, set up six scoring drives that begin in Shorter territory.
"There are times when we're really a good football team," C-N coach Ken Sparks said. "But there are times when I think Mother Goose Elementary could gain big yardage on us. I'm grateful that they reach down in there and get it. But at other times I'm ashamed to be their coach because I can't find a way to get it done."
Carson-Newman led Shorter 31-14 with 12:36 in the fourth quarter following a Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) two-yard touchdown run – his first of the season. But that's when the fireworks started.
Shorter scored 14 unanswered in the matter of 1:05.
Hawk quarterback Eric Dodson ripped off a 54-yard run to bring Shorter within 10 before Roderick James went 83 yards on a pitch play to bring the Hawks within three with 9:52 left in the game. The 83-yard run was the first 80-yard plus run on C-N since 1995 when an Elon player pulled the feat.
However, Carson-Newman answered with a Baker 63-yard rush on the next play to preserve the win. Baker's second score moved him past Nate Inman and into 10th place on the all-time rushing touchdowns list with 29 for his career.
Randall Freeman (Ooltewah, Tenn.) cemented the win with a one-yard run with 4:53 left in the fourth.
Anthony Eubanks (Pendleton, S.C.) became the first Carson-Newman wide receiver to make eight catches in a game since Tim George grabbed eight against Lenoir-Rhyne in 1972. Eubanks' grabs covered 95 yards.
"It was a team effort," Sparks said. "Anthony ran the right patterns, and the other guys around him also ran the right routes to enable that to happen. It couldn't happen without them working together."
Carson-Newman also had several missed opportunities. The Eagles fumbled the football away three times inside the Shorter 45 and twice when driving inside the Hawks' 20.
"There were times where it felt like where we were promoting a disaster," Sparks said. "They same team that got six three and outs and gave the offense the ball in the offense twice, but gives up four long scores – it doesn't add up. There's something malfunctioning. That malfunction is probably the head coach, cause he can't get it done."
Shorter's scoring drives covered a grand total of 80 plays. The touchdowns combined for 250 yards of the Hawks' 392 yards of total offense.
"Shorter has speed," Sparks said. "When they get in space, they're dangerous. They did a good job when they got to the edges. And when you have 11 on 10, 11 is going to win most of the time."
Defensively, the Eagles were solid beyond the four long touchdowns allowed. C-N forced Shorter off the field on 12 of the Hawks' 13 third down conversion opportunities.
Jaycob Coleman (Norton, Va.) led the Eagles defensively with six tackles and a sack. William Alderman (Brooksville, Fla.), David Way (Temple, Ga.) and Jarell Emanuel (Kissimmee, Fla.) all recovered fumbles for the Eagles. Jonathan Sites (Hendersonville, Tenn.) picked off a pass for C-N, marking the seventh consecutive game the Eagles have made an interception.
Baker led the Eagles on the ground with 16 carries for 145 yards and the two scores. It's Baker's first 140-yard game since he crested that mark last year in the playoffs against Valdosta State. Thomas nearly joined him with on the plus side of 100-yards rushing, but finished with 22 carries for 97 yards and a pair of scores.
Dodson had 137 yards on the ground to lead the Hawks, plus his pair of rushing touchdowns.
Sparks said he's glad his players put up with his misgivings.
"I've got my warts," Sparks said. "And I appreciate this group of kids for wanting to be around me in spite of my misgivings."
Sparks will coach in his 400th career game when the Eagles face Tusculum on homecoming next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Pregame coverage begins at 2 on the Eagle Sports Network with the Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), 106.3 ESPN Radio The Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.