After a hard-fought loss in the season opener of the 2011 football season against the Southern Conference’s 7th ranked Wofford Terriers, the Presbyterian College Blue Hose added their first W to their season record with a 38 – 21 victory over the North Greenville University Crusaders.
In this non-conference game, the Blue Hose demonstrated a prideful defensive performance that promises to bring more wins to the team as they start region play in the next few weeks. PC made a big statement at the beginning of the game after receiving the kickoff and driving the ball down the field for a 7-0 lead. Quarterback Ryan Singer, after an impressive performance in last week’s game against Wofford, led the Blue Hose onto the field and kick-started an 80-yard, 2:30 drive down the field, capped off by a 25-yard touchdown run by running back Seth Moreland off a pitch-out from Singer. North Greenville countered on the next possession with a 25-yard pass from quarterback Willy Korn to tie the game at 7-7.
On PC’s next possession, a big first down pass to receiver Jeremiah McKie could not be the spark to another touchdown drive, as PC had to punt to NGU, who drove the ball down the field and took their first and only lead of the game on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Korn, givingthe Crusaders the 14-7 advantage.
After a big return on the kickoff by receiver Michael Ruff and a 17-yard pass from Singer to McKie, PC crossed midfield. After long passes from Singer to receivers Patrick McKoy and Michael Ruff for first downs on consecutive plays, Singer ran the ball in from three yards out for a touchdown on a quarterback keeper, tying the game at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The game went back and forth for most of the second quarter with neither team seemingly able to take control of the game. Cornerback Justin Bethel broke up a long pass on a NGU 3rd down, halting their drive and forcing a punt. In NGU’s next possession, another great defensive play was made by cornerback Damon Lawrence on 3rd down, forcing a 4th down and inches. NGU went for it, but the Blue Hose defense held the Crusaders, making a defensive statement that would be evident throughout the rest of the game.
PC took advantage of great field position after a short NGU punt from their end zone towards the end of the half, and after failing to gain a first down, lined up to kick a field goal. On the snap, holder Derrick Overholt stood up and passed the ball to a wide-open Joey Gilkey for the touchdown, giving the Blue Hose a 21-14 lead going into the locker room to prepare for the second half.
More back and forth play to start the second half was capped off by a 37-yard field goal by kicker Jeremy Tommie to add to the PC lead, giving the Blue Hose the 24-14 advantage. NGU’s next possession ended with Korn’s first interception of the game by PC linebacker L.J. Perry, which was the first of several key defensive plays in the second half that ensured PC’s victory.
Towards the end of the third quarter, NGU capitalized on the good field position resulting from a short PC punt and ran the ball down the field for a touchdown by Korn on a quarterback keeper, making the score 24-21.
After two failed drives by PC, NGU drove the ball down the field and attempted a game-tying 39-field goal. PC blocked the field goal and linebacker CeeJay Harris returned the ball 71 yards for a touchdown, giving PC a 31-21 lead and a defensive spark to finish out the game. NGU countered with another drive down the field, but under the defensive pressure of the Blue Hose, Korn threw his second interception of the game, caught by PC’s Justin Bethel, who put PC in great field position at the NGU 25-yard line. On third down, PC capitalized and running back Lance Byrd ran in a 16-yard touchdown, giving the Blue Hose the 38-21 lead that would end up being the final score.
NGU had six minutes left to salvage the three-possession PC lead, and after three consecutive first downs by the Crusaders, PC linebacker L.J. Perry sacked Korn on 4th down at the two- minute mark, an accurate representation of PC’s defensive dominance throughout the entire game.
PC showed great pride and determination in a victory that appears to be only the first of many in a season that promises to bring PC its best football record yet in Division I play. The PC football team travels to San Francisco, CA next week to take on the California Bears in another non-conference game.