By DERRICK BATTLE
HICKORY – It’s difficult to hush a home crowd from the start, but North Greenville (S.C.) senior defensive back Rochar Witherspoon did it.
He returned the initial kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown on Saturday night, igniting the visiting Crusaders as they cruised past Lenoir-Rhyne University 45-0 in a nonconference football game at Moretz Stadium.
The Bears (0-2) started their first drive well with junior receiver T.J. Smith taking a jet sweep for nine yards and with red-shirt freshman quarterback Jarrod Kellar scrambling for a first down and later completing a pass for six yards to fellow red-shirt freshman Saaehim Brooks.
But a false start penalty halted LRU’s momentum – and that was a theme for most of the game.
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“They (penalties) were drive killers,” LRU head coach Mike Kellar said. We had a second-and-2, and we have a false start.
“We just aren’t very good right now. You don’t get beat 45-0 because you do things really well.
“Our kids are giving maximum effort. They are playing their hearts out. The simple fact is that we are not a good football team right now. …”
Turnovers also plagued the Bears – Jarrod Kellar threw his firstinterception of the year with 13 minutes, 57 seconds left in the second quarter. That led to a 1-yard scoring run by North Greenville senior running back Simeon Byrd
LRU found consistency in its running game in the first half by way of junior running back Calvin Edwards. But with 9:07 left in the first half, he fumbled and was injured on an 11-yard gain.
“He (Edwards) got hit in the head,” Mike Kellar said. “With the way concussion are nowadays you don’t mess with it. He will go through concussion protocol…. His injury really put us in a bind because the stuff that we were doing with him was working.”
Before leaving with the injury, Edwards had rushed eight times for 57 yards.
Late in the third quarter, Jarrod Kellar threw his second interception trying to complete a deep pass. Five plays later the Crusaders (2-0) scored on a five-yard run by red-shirt freshman running back Tracy Scott.
Jarrod Kellar finished 11 of 19 for 87 yards with two interceptions. Junior quarterback Kaleb Scott played the fourth quarter and provided a spark, but penalties and an interception halted the drives he led.
The Bears had nine penalties for 70 yards.
Meanwhile, Crusaders sophomore quarterback Will Hunter started the game completing nine of his first 10 passes.
“For me it was huge to get out there and to get into a rhythm because I didn’t do too well last game,” Hunter said.
Hunter finished 15 of 21 for 155 yards with six of his completions going to 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior receiver Mason Sanders. The two also connected for a 12-yard TD that gave North Greenville a 28-0 lead heading into half.
The Crusaders were able to pass the ball well due to a rushing attack that gained 179 yards and provided four TDs.
NORTH GREENVILLE, S.C. 45
NG--Witherspoon 100 kickoff return (Matt Gravely kick), 14:43
NG--Ashton Heard 11 run (Gravely kick), 2:44
NG--7-53 2:13, NGU 14 - LR 0
NG--Simeon Byrd 1 run (Gravely kick), 9:49
NG—Mason Sanders 12 pass from Will Hunter (Gravely kick), 0:37
NG—FG Gravely 25, 6:51
NG—Tracy Scott 5 run (Gravely kick), 5:14
NG—Collin Sneed 2 run (Gravely kick), 13:30
Rushes-Yds (Net);46-179; 36-95
Passing Yds (Net);201;121
Total off plays-yds;71-389;61-216
Third down conv.;7 of 14; 4 of 14
Fourth down conv.;2 of 2; 1 of 3
NG: Ashton Heard 12-67; Tracy Scott 8-36; Tristen Jackson 7-34; Simeon Byrd 5-27; Collin Sneed 4-13; Latif Hughes 2-8; TEAM 2-minus 2; Will Hunter 6-minus 4. LRU: Calvin Edwards 8-57; Nelson Brown 14-36; Kaleb Scott 3-9; Robbie Hooks 5-2; Bradley Jones 1-minus 3; Jarrod Kellar 5-minus 6.
NG: Will Hunter 16-22-0-165; Collin Sneed 2-3-0-45. LRU--Jarrod Kellar 11-19-2-87; Kaleb Scott 3-6-1-34.
NG: Mason Sanders 6-76; Javon Smith 5-33; Devon Turman 2-29; Ashton Heard 2-12; Christian Bruce 1-31; Demajiay Rooks 1-15; Bobby Foos 1-14. LRU: P. Rendleman 3-30; Saaehim Brooks 3-24; Alec Philpott 3-21; Omar Baker 1-14; Jaquay Mitchell 1-9; T.J. Smith 1-9; Mikel Floyd 1-8; Dahquan Pauling 1-6.
NG: J. Ferguson 1-46; Tony Godbolt 1-40; Nigel Gay1-19. LRU: None.
NG: Will Hunter 2-0. LRU: Edwards 1-1.