GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – The Lions fell at SAC rival Tusculum 28-24 in South Atlantic Conference football action Saturday night at Pioneer Field. Mars Hill fell to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the league. The Pioneers improved to 3-3 on the season, 1-2 in the SAC.
Elijah Jett rushed 21 times for 106 yards and one score averaging 5.0 yards per carry. David Salmon threw for 191 yards completing 14-34 passes. Keshaun Taylor recorded six receptions for 74 yards and added four kickoff returns for 65 yards. Andreas Hill led all tacklers with 10 stops (5 solo). He added a tackle-for-loss and a forced fumble. Chris Leamon added nine tackles (4 solo), three-for-loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Jeremy Middleton tallied seven tackles, a forced fumble, a pass break-up and an interception.
Alex Ogle threw for 282 yards completing 15-23 passes and two touchdowns. Lor'renzo Pratt was on the receiving end of five of those passes for 40 yards and one score. Evan Altizer caught four passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. Maxwell Joseph rushed 17 times for 66 yards and two scores. L'Keith Brown led the Pioneers' defense with nine tackles (4 solo), a tackle-for-loss, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble. Malik Goodman added eight tackles, and a tackle-for-loss.
A 52-yard fumble recovery and return by Anthony Carson put the Lions on the board with 4:05 left in the first quarter. Tanner Fox then nailed a 26-yard field goal to extend Mars Hill's advantage to 10-0 with 13:40 left in the second quarter. Ogle hit Altizer on a 36-yard scoring pass to put the Pioneers on the board (10-7) with 11:30 left in the second period. Reggie Battle capped off a 11-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard dive to put the Lions on top 17-7 with 6:54 left in the first half off play. Pratt caught an eight-yard pass from Ogle and then dove and knocked over the pylon to trim the Lions' lead to three points (17-14) with 26 seconds left in the half.
After Mars Hill threw an interception on their first drive of the second half, Tusculum drove 43 yards on seven plays capped off by a one-yard rush by Joseph to give the Pioneers their first lead of the game (17-21) with 11:03 left in the third quarter. Mars Hill answered with 59 seconds left in the quarter to go back on top (24-21) after Jett ran in from a yard out.
The Pioneers regained the lead for good (28-24) with 10:42 left in the fourth quarter after Joseph scored his second touchdown of the game on another one-yard dive. The scoring drive spanned 10 plays covering 89 yards. After Mars Hill turned the ball over on downs with 6:40 left in the game and it looked like the Pioneers could run the clock out on their next possession but a forced fumble and a recovery of the ball by Chris Leamon gave Mars Hill another chance when they obtained the ball at the 3:42 mark. Unfortunately, MHU would not be able to score and Tusculum regained the ball with 2:43 left in regulation. Again, the Pioneers had an opportunity to run out the clock but a tough Lion defense gave Mars Hill one final chance to find the endzone with 11 ticks left. Mars Hill took over at their own 20-yardline but could not get the ball in the endzone on their final possession and the hosts held on for a 28-24 victory.
Mars Hill will host SAC foe Carson-Newman on Saturday, October 14. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.