JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Transportation troubles for the football team at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise delayed the start of a key South Atlantic Conference game on Saturday by 30 minutes.
That might’ve been a new issue, but once the Highland Cavaliers got on the gridiron it was the same old problems that plagued them.
A quarterback quandary, an inability to stop Carson-Newman on third down (or any down, really) and familiar mistakes spelled doom as UVa-Wise suffered a 42-7 loss to the Eagles at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
UVa-Wise (1-3, 0-2) couldn’t contain Mars Hill’s passing attack the week before and the Highland Cavaliers were tripped up by Carson-Newman’s triple-option offense on Saturday as the Eagles gained 464 yards on the ground.
The Cavs not only had to get to Saturday’s game in late-arriving buses, members of the team probably felt like they had been ran over by a large vehicle on the commute back to Southwest Virginia.
Carson-Newman (2-1, 1-1) finished with a 557-195 edge in total offense in looking like a well-oiled machine.
“It was a tough day,” said UVa-Wise coach Dane Damron. “We knew it was going to be tough. It’s the first time we’ve faced that [triple option]. They had answers for everything we tried to do. Today they had the answers to the test and they just kicked our butts.”
UVa-Wise actually took a 7-0 lead with 4:20 remaining in the first quarter as Shaheim Revel caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Cropp.
“We came out and got in a little bit of a rhythm and found some good things in their defense,” Cropp said. “They made adjustments after that and we just stalled.”
With UVa-Wise trailing just 14-7 in the second quarter, Cropp engineered a drive deep into Carson-Newman territory but was shaken up and had to leave the game after taking a hard hit from a defender.
Tanner Bernard took his place, but on his second pass attempt was intercepted by Darius Williams. Carson-Newman scored two plays later to take a 21-7 lead.
Cropp returned shortly thereafter and didn’t do much, while freshman Lendon Redwine (Dobyns-Bennett) took over at QB with 10:23 left in the fourth quarter and played the remainder of the game.
In total: UVa-Wise was 21-of-39 for 127 yards and two interceptions through the air.
The Cavs must get better at the QB position if they hope to compete in the SAC.
“You think?” Damron said. “It’s not been good and we’re not making the right reads. We’ve got people running open all over the place, we’re just not making throws. Too many times when we do make the throw we’re not catching it. … We’ve just got to figure something out.”
After a 30-28 loss to Wingate the week before, Carson-Newman got things figured out and steamrolled the Cavaliers like they have many teams over the years.
“We do what we do and we are who we are,” said Carson-Newman coach Mike Turner. “After last week we had to get back to thinking of that four-yard mentality and getting those first downs and staying ahead of the chains. Those kids responded to it well.”
Carson-Newman had an 18-play, 89-yard drive in the third quarter that chewed 8:06 off the clock.
“That’s very effective in this heat,” said Turner, referring to the game-time temperature of 91 degrees.
C-N quarterback Derrick Evans rushed for 140 yards and threw for 74 more, while Troy Dendy scored two second-half touchdowns. The Eagles were 8-of-13 on third-down conversions.
“They were very tough,” said UVa-Wise senior linebacker Buster Henderson, who had nine tackles. “We thought we had a good week of preparation. At the end of the day we just made mistakes and those mistakes cost us.”
Which has become a familiar refrain in three straight losses.
“We didn’t answer the bell for 60 minutes,” Damron said. “I thought we played really well in spurts, but you could see us wearing down.”
NOTES: UVa-Wise freshman Drew Vermillion (Gate City) punted the ball well for the Highland Cavaliers once again, averaging 43.6 yards on eight boots. He had a long of 68 yards. … Sophomore Caleb Goins (John Battle) played on special teams and made a tackle for Carson-Newman in what was his collegiate debut. … It was the first meeting between the schools and the seventh time Carson-Newman had played a college from the state of Virginia. The Eagles had previously tangled with Emory & Henry, Virginia Union, Virginia-Lynchburg, Virginia State, Liberty and Washington & Lee. … It doesn’t get any easier for UVa-Wise in the next game as the Highland Cavaliers play at Lenoir Rhyne (4-0), the eighth-ranked team in NCAA Division II.