MARS HILL, N.C. – Austin Brown threw for 244 yards completing 27-of-42 passes but the Lions' football team fell 27-9 to Shaw University in Mars Hill's home opener. MHU fell to 0-2 on the year while the Bears evened their season record to 1-1.
Craig Rucker was on the receiving end of eight of Brown's passes for 79 yards. Rucker also had three kickoff returns for 51 yards. Elijah Jett rushed for 68 yards on 12 carries (5.7 avg.). Tyler Ferguson and Clarenton Cowart added 68 and 66 reception yards in the contest, respectively. Tray Smith led the Lions' defense with 13 tackles (9 solo), including one for loss. Chris Ferdinand followed with nine tackles (6 solo), three tackles-for-loss and a safety. Joshua Dawkins and Jaden King added seven stops apiece. As a team Mars Hill tallied 422 yards of total offense, 315 in the air and 107 on the ground.
Keon Marsh threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bears' offense. He connected on 25-of-33 attempts. Daniel Bender was Marsh's favorite target catching 12 passes for 152 and both touchdown strikes. Dorrell McClain rushed 17 times for 56 yards (3.3 avg.) and one touchdown. Devon Hunt led the Bears defense with 14 tackles (12 solo), a sack and two tackles-for-loss. Jaleel Scroggins followed with 11 tackles (9 solo) and four tackles-for-loss. The Bears accumulated 344 yards of total offense. They passed for 265 yards and recorded 79 rushing yards.
McClain put the first points on the board for the Bears rushing in from five yards out to give Shaw a 7-0 lead with 7:12 left in the second quarter. Marsh found Bender on a 13-yard touchdown pass to extend the Bears lead to 14-0 with 50 seconds left in the second frame. The teams carried that score into the locker room at halftime.
Ferdinand tackled Coleman Blackston in the Bears endzone for a safety at the 7:34 mark in the third quarter to trim the Bears lead to 14-2. Brown then scampered 15 yards with 2:57 left in the third stanza to bring the Lions within five points (14-9) of Shaw. That was as close as the Lions would get.
Bender and Marsh connected again on a 12-yard pass play to give the Bears a 21-9 advantage with 12:47 left in the fourth quarter. Anthony Carter picked up a Mars Hill fumble with 6:22 left in regulation and ran 80 yards to end the scoring in the contest and make the final tally 27-9 in favor of the visitors.
Mars Hill will open South Atlantic Conference play next Saturday when they travel to Hickory, N.C., to face the Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.