By Adam Cavalier
No.18 Carson-Newman (4-1, 3-0 South Atlantic Conference) reeled off 41 unanswered points to skate to a 48-20 win over Mars Hill (1-3, 1-1 SAC) and the Eagles’ first 3-0 start in SAC play since 2009.
Carson-Newman fell behind 14-7 on a Jamel Harbison one-yard touchdown blast before ripping off the next 41 points in the game. The Eagles rolled up 635 yards of total offense on just 62 plays.
However, perhaps more importantly for the Eagles growth as a club, Carson-Newman forced three turnovers and kept the Lions under 20 points until the final play of the game.
Running back Andy Hibbett’s star shone brightest offensively. The senior only had 191 yards and three TD’s on seven carries. His 27.3 yards per rush is the second highest total among running backs with more than five carries in a game. Hibbett’s three touchdowns all came in the second half and helped put the game out of reach.
His first score came on a 58-yard dive, his second on a 65-yard scamper and his third on a 55-yard pitch that started to the right and finished with Hibbett meandering his way back left across the field to the pylon for a score.
Hibbett’s three touchdowns move him past Vernon Turner and into 10th place on Carson-Newman’s all-time rushing touchdown list with a tie with Nate Inman with 29 career rushing touchdowns.
The three scores came within a five-minute span in the third quarter and helped Carson-Newman wrap up the win and give its reserves more than a quarter of playing time.
The second half started with two scores from quarterback De’Andre Thomas. One from eight yards and the second from the one yard line. In the interim, the Eagles held Mars Hill to three punts and picked off two passes thanks to David Crumitie and Jawan Holmes. Eric Cain intercepted a first half pass that sparked Carson-Newman’s scoring run.
Thomas finished with 104 yards on the ground on nine carries, including a season-long rush of 41 yards. Thomas also notched his fifth career 200-yard passing performance with 208 yards on nine of 18 passing.
The Eagles limited Mars Hill’s two-time SAC player of the Week Dimitri Holmes to just 55 all-purpose yards. The tally was his lowest in 20 games when he had 44 in his sophomore season.
Jerry Miclisse led the Eagles defense with eight tackles while Jasper Mason had the high mark for the Lions with eight stops as well.
The Eagles break for their bye week before, resuming play October 18 at Tusculum for the Pioneers homecoming.