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Braves bring Homecoming win

By Curtis Brooks
Sports Editor

November 8, 2012

Photo by Hillary Akers

The Black and Gold football team snapped a two game home losing streak on Oct. 27, when they scored a trio of third quarter touchdowns en route to 31-24 victory over regional rival Newberry on Homecoming.

In a quarterback dual between Newberry's W.T. Murden and Braves' signal caller Luke Charles, the latter was able to prevail as he led his side with 335 passing yards on 29-of-43 passing and a pair of touchdown tosses.

Charles connected with eight different Braves' receivers throughout the day.

Murden threw for 298 yards connecting on 29 of his 46 passing attempts and a pair of touchdown passes.

The visiting Wolves got off to a quick start as they scored back-to-back touchdowns in their first two drives of the game.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Newberry used a 12-play drive that traveled 75 yards to score their first points of the game.

Murden capped the opening drive with a 10-yard toss to junior wide out Corey Washington.

Washington entered the game as the Wolves' leading receiver in all statistical categories but was held to only five receptions for 51 yards against the Black and Gold.

The Braves were forced to punt after a three-and-out on their first possession.

Sophomore return man Brice Green returned the ensuing punt 43 yards into Braves' territory.

Five plays later, senior fullback Ryan Williams scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge to give the visiting team an early 14-0 lead.

Kicker Connor Haskins gave the Braves their first points of the game when he connected on a 23-yard field goal in the closing minutes of the first stanza.

In the Black and Gold's first possession of the second quarter, they compiled a 16-play drive that went 66 yards before junior running back Elliot Powell punched in the host team's first touchdown on the goal line to cut the Wolves lead to four points.

The visitors from the South Atlantic Conference went into halftime with a 17-10 lead after kicker Kyle Mackey knocked down a 29-yard field goal attempt as the time expired for the first half.

In the third quarter, the host team was able to take control of the game as they scored 21 unanswered points in the period.

In the Braves' opening possession of the second half, the home team's offensive attack struck quick driving 60 yards in six plays before Charles connected with junior receiver T.J. Johnson from 10-yards out, tying the game at 17 each.

The Black and Gold defense responded by forcing a Newberry punt in the following possession, setting up the offense at the host team's 43-yard line.

The offense opened up the playbook and drew up a trick play that led to the Braves' second touchdown in less than five minutes and permanently taking control of the game.

The play happened when Johnson came around from his receiver position for what appeared to be a run, but instead he threw a 42-yard touchdown strike to fellow receiver Donald Britt.

Junior Te'vell Williams scored the final touchdown of the afternoon for the Braves when Charles found him streaking into the end zone from nine yards out giving the Black and Gold a 31-17 lead.

Williams has hauled in a team-high eight touchdown receptions this season.

The Wolves scored the first touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter when Murden connected with junior receiver Byron Dickerson; but it was too little too late, as the Braves held on to their 31-24 lead until the final horn sounded en route to their sixth victory of the campaign.

A majority of the host team's offensive production came through the air as Williams led the Black and Gold receiving core with a game-high nine receptions for 110 yards.

Junior Ben Decelle made five catches for 87 yards while Britt hauled in a career-high eight catches for 73 yards.

The Black and Gold defense returned to form as they held Newberry to 111 rushing yards, after allowing an average of 280 rushing yards in the previous two weeks.

Both L.J. Stroman and Darcus Elliot tallied team-high nine tackles on the day.

Newberry senior linebacker Apollo Stretch recorded a game-high 10 stops, six of which were solo stops.

Not only were the Braves celebrating Homecoming, they were also honoring Senior Night as a dozen members of the team were playing their last regular season home game at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.

"I am very excited for our senior class that we were able to send them out with a victory against a very good football team," UNCP head coach Pete Shinnick said in the post game press conference.

"I was happy with the way that we responded after being down at halftime because we haven't been able to do that the last couple of weeks. Our guys didn't give up and they didn't lose faith in anything that we were doing," Shinnick said.

The Black and Gold will return to action as they travel to West Virginia to take on West Liberty on Nov. 10 in the regular season finale.

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