Story and photo courtesy of Tusculum Athletics
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - Xzanvion Smith scored four touchdowns, including a pair of kickoff returns for scores as Tusculum College defeated visiting Brevard College 49-39 Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field. The Pioneers (2-3, 1-1 SAC) capture its first South Atlantic Conference win of the season, while the Tornados (0-5, 0-3 SAC) remain winless on the year. It was also homecoming for the Pioneers.
Smith established a school single-game record with 311 all-purpose yards, including kickoff returns of 79 and 83 yards for touchdowns, tying a TC game mark. Smith also hauled in six receptions for 149 yards and two TD's. His two kickoff returns both came in the first quarter, a first by a Pioneer.
Senior Brian Marshall also set Tusculum history in Saturday's win as he became the first Pioneer player to rush and receive 1,000 yards in a career. He accounted for 74 rushing yards on 11 carries and posted five catches for 65 yards. He now stands at 1,043 rushing yards and 1,008 receiving yards.
Tusculum quarterback Bo Cordell passed for 322 yards, going 20-for-27, including three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Dominique Lesine led a Brevard rushing attack that churned out 415 yards on the ground. Lesine rushed for 139 yards on 19 attempts, including a touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Reese rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns, while Jordan Ollis accounted for a pair of scores on his 53 rushing yards.
Brevard out-gained the Pioneers by a 460-394 yard margin as the Tornados attempted 87 offensive plays to Tusculum's 51. BC also controlled time of possession as they held onto the ball for 39:07 to Tusculum's 20:53. Andre Overholt led all BC players with 192 all-purpose yards, including 63 rushing, 100 on kickoff returns and 29 on punt returns.
The Tusculum defense forced a pair of turnovers, while recording 113 total tackles, the fourth most in school history. Luke Harris led all players with a career-high 14 tackles, including eight solo stops. Deres Benn posted his second straight double-figure tackle performance with 13 stops. Brian Alexander added 10 tackles, including one for loss, blocked a kick and was named Homecoming King
The two teams came out slinging as the two combined for 34 points in the opening quarter.
Smith got the scoring started when Cordell found him on a 51-yard TD reception at the 8:58 mark of the first quarter. Logan Cornelius' extra point made it 7-0.
The Tornados wasted little time to answer as Overholt returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to the TC one-yard line. Ollis finished it off with a one-yard plunge. Ben Noboa added the point after to knot the game at 7-7.
On the next kickoff, TC's Skylar West fair-caught the high kickoff, but BC was whistled for being offside. Tusculum capitalized on the second chance as Smith fielded the kickoff and returned it for a 79-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Brevard took the next possession and covered 65 yards in nine plays, capped off by an Aaron Reese four-yard touchdown run. Reese set up the drive with his 31-yard scamper on the series' second play. The extra point was blocked by Cashaud Lyons as TC led 14-13 at the 3:34 mark of the period.
It was Smith again as he returned his second kickoff return of the quarter for an 83-yard touchdown. Cornelius' kick made it a 21-13 lead for the Pioneers. He now shares the school record with former Tusculum All-American Ricardo Colclough, who returned a pair of scores against Morehouse College in 2003.
Brevard followed with a 12-play, 61-yard drive to cut the deficit to 21-20 with 12:07 remaining before halftime. Ollis scored the first of his two touchdowns on his one-yard score.
TC bounced back with a six-play, 68-yard drive of its own as Smith scored his fourth TD of the half on an 18-yard reception from Cordell for a 28-20 lead. After stopping Brevard at midfield, TC added another score when Cordell found Justin Houston in the back of the end zone on a six-yard pass and a 35-20 lead.
Brevard put together one last drive just before halftime advancing to the TC 17, but Noboa's 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked and recovered by Alexander as the Pioneers led by 15 at the intermission.
In the second half, Tusculum took the opening possession and marched 62 yards in nine plays as Chad Blakely punched it into the end zone on his six-yard rush for a 42-20 lead.
The Tusculum defense capitalized on a BC fumble as Darien Crank came up with the recovery at midfield. Cordell completed a 45-yard pass to Smith to the BC 2 before B.J. Spradlin scored from there to give the Pioneers their biggest lead of the contest at 49-20.
Brevard made a furious rally scoring three touchdowns down the stretch, including a 3-yard run by Reese and a seven-yard rush by Lesine. Derek Church added a three-yard run with 3:41 left in the game to make the score 49-39 with the two-point conversion pending. But Reese was stopped just shy of the conversion.
TC's Matt Levine recovered the ensuing on-side kick and the Tusculum offense ran out the clock to capture the victory.
Billy Mustatello led BC's defensive efforts with 10 tackles, while Landon Allen added seven tackles, including three for a loss and a sack. Marvin Lawson finished with four stops, including three sacks.
For Tusculum, John Perry, Rocky Jones and Aaron Morgan each tallied eight tackles in the win.
The Pioneers will step out of conference play for the final time this regular season next Saturday when they host UNC Pembroke for a 1:30 p.m. contest at Pioneer Field.