ROME Ga. – Mars Hill won their 2017 season opener by a decisive 40-14 margin over the Hawks of Shorter University Saturday afternoon at Barron Stadium. Quarterback David Salmon threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
Head Coach Tim Clifton stated, "I thought our young men played hard and played with a lot of enthusiasm. We are very happy for them and excited about the win."
Salmon completed 17-24 passes (71%) with no interceptions. Malik Prescott rushed for 110 yards on 17 carries averaging 6.5 yards per rush. He found the endzone twice in the game. Keshaun Taylor caught eight passes for 131 yards and one score. Chris Leamon had three tackles including an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. Earl Adams added four tackles, a sack and two tackles-for-loss. Jeremy Middleton, Anthony Phillips, Christopher Ferdinand and Jerjuan Edwards led the Lions in tackles with five apiece. The Lions recorded 393 total yards, averaging 6.2 per play. Mars Hill's defense held Shorter to just 78 yards rushing and had four sacks in the contest.
Quarterback Tyler Pullum led Shorter with 244 passing yards completing 19-28 passes. Joseph Ross was on the receiving end of seven of those passes tallying 101 yards on the day. B.J. McCoy rushed for 78 yards on 21 carries. Rodney Jackson led the Hawks' defense with a game high 10 tackles (7 solo).
Mars Hill wasted little time getting on the board after Salmon hit Taylor for a 61-yard scoring strike 50 seconds into the game. Prescott dove in from two yards out to extend the Lions lead to 14-0 with 6:33 left in the opening quarter of play. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Prescott broke loose for a 48-yard scoring run and MHU led 21-0 at the 4:07 mark of the first period.
Leamon then picked off Pullum and returned the interception 85 yards to give the Lions a 27-0 advantage with 14:42 remaining in the second quarter. McCoy finally put Shorter on the board when he ran in from two yards out to make the score 27-7 at the three minute mark of the second quarter. The teams carried that score into the locker room at halftime.
Pullum ran in from a yard out to bring the Hawks within 13 points (27-14) with 8:30 left in the third stanza but that was as close as Shorter would get. Salmon found Craig Rucker on an eight-yard scoring pass play with 5:35 left in the third quarter to give the Lions a 33-14 advantage. Jamel Hall ended the scoring in the contest when he caught a 10-yard pass from Salmon with 12:37 left in regulation to make the final tally 40-14 in favor of the Lions.
Mars Hill will play at N.C. A&T next Saturday, September 9. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.