Story and photo courtesy of Mars Hill Athletics
MARS HILL, N.C. - Jeremy Hughes ran in from five yards out on a bootleg pass from Jon Richt in overtime to lead Mars Hill to a 23-20 victory over Tusculum College in the Ammons Family Athletic Center and Meares Stadium. The Lions took their season record to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the SAC. The Pioneers fell to 2-7 on the season, 1-4 in the league.
Deunta Jennings caught eight passes for 212 yards to lead the Lions' offense. He also scored the Lions' first touchdown on an end around rushing play. Dimitri Holmes caught seven passes for 81 yards. Richt threw for 369 yards. The Lions accumulated 465 yards of offense on the day. Jasper Mason recorded his career and a team season high 21 tackles in the win. Eleven of which were solo stops. He added a sack and a tackle-for-loss. Drew Martin followed with his career high 17 tackles (12 solo) and a tackle-for-loss. Sammy Siasia recorded 11 stops and a pass breakup in the win.
B.J. Spradlin rushed for 99 yards and one score to lead the Pioneers. Bo Cordell threw for 176 yards and one score completing 17-32 passes. Justin Houston caught three passes for 53 yards. Deres Benn led Pioneer tacklers with seven stops. Evan Dansby and Luke Harris added six tackles apiece. Kaytron Becton had a great day in the Pioneer secondary picking off a pair of interceptions. He added four tackles.
Cordell hit Matt Levine for a 32-yard touchdown strike with 1:18 left in the first quarter to put the first points on the board. After a successful PAT kick by Logan Cornelius, the Pioneers led 7-0. Spradlin then dove in from a yard out at the 11:52 mark of the second quarter to take a 14-0 advantage after another successful PAT kick by Cornelius. Jennings then brought the Lions within seven points of the Pioneers with 9:42 left in the half on a three-yard rush. Victor Yurco's PAT kick was good. Yurco then nailed a 23-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 14-10 with 3:29 left in the first half. The teams would carry that score into the locker room at the intermission.
Hughes gave the Lions a 17-14 lead with 5:11 left in the third stanza on a four-yard run. Cornelius then booted a 20-yard field goal with 13:33 left in regulation to tie the contest. MHC had two opportunities in their next drive to win the game but a dropped pass in the end zone and a missed field goal attempt sent the game into overtime.
The Lions defense was stingy in the extra period holding the Pioneers to eight yards on three plays forcing a 34-yard field goal by Cornelius. The Lions were stifled on their first two plays of their overtime possession. On 3rd-and-7, Richt hit Jennings for an eight-yard pass to keep the Lions' drive alive. Shaikel Davis rushed for nine yards on two carries to get the Lions to the Tusculum five yard line for a 3rd-and-1 play that ended up being the game winner by Hughes.
Mars Hill will have an open week and then travel to Jefferson City, Tenn., to face Carson-Newman College. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.