PEMBROKE, N.C. – Austin Brown scored four times in the Lions' 34-21 victory at UNC Pembroke. Mars Hill improved to 3-6 on the season while the Braves fell to 2-6 overall.
Brown completed 21-34 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed seven times for 54 yards and one score averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Tyler Ferguson caught two of Browns touchdown strikes. He finished the day with five receptions for 109 yards. Christopher Roberts carried the ball 24 times for 98 yards while Craig Rucker caught nine passes for 96 yards. Chris Ferdinand led the Lions' defense with seven tackles (6 solo), a sack, three tackles-for-loss and an interception. Carl Robertgeau and Joshua Dawkins followed with eight tackles and one tackle-for-loss apiece. Robertgeau added an interception in the win. Mars Hill set a new season high with three interceptions against the Braves.
Josh Jones threw for 259 yards completing 19-37 passes and two touchdowns for UNC Pembroke. Shammond Hicks caught three passes for 93 yards and one score. Jordan Howard led the Braves' defense with nine tackles (5 solo) while Josh Manns added eight tackles (3 solo) and a pass break-up.
Mars Hill's defense held the Braves to a field goal on their first possession with an impressive goal line stand. After a 58-yard rush by McKinley Nelson to the Lions' one yard line, Mars Hill held the Braves on three straight downs to forced UNC Pembroke to settle for a field goal with 10:55 left in the first quarter. Mars Hill's offense got on the board with 4:55 left in the first period when Austin Brown found Tyler Ferguson on a 41-yard touchdown pass to give MHU a 7-3 lead.
On fourth and 21 from the UNC Pembroke 14-yard line, Dawson Williams blocked Isaac Parks' punt that rolled into the endzone where it was recovered by Cameron Wrice for the Lions' second score of the day and MHU led 14-3. Alex Alverado nailed his second field goal of the afternoon with 14:49 left in the second quarter when he converted a 31-yard attempt.
Josh Jones then found Shammond Hicks on a 79-yard touchdown pass with 6:02 left in the second frame and after a successful two-point PAT pass and the game was knotted at 14-all. Javon Harbison capped off a seven-play, 75 yard drive catching a three-yard pass in the endzone from Brown to give the Lions the lead back, 21-14 with 46 seconds remaining in the first half. That would later prove to be the game winning score.
On the ensuing kickoff, Nelson returned the ball 53 yards to the Lions 46 yard line. Carl Robertgeau stopped a possible Brave score intercepting Joshua Dale's pass at the Lions' seven yard line with 22 ticks left in the opening half. Mars Hill ran out the clock to send the teams into the locker room at halftime with MHU holding a seven point advantage. Brown accumulated 208 yards of total offense in the first half, 159 in the air, including two passing scores. Joshua Dawkins led the Lions' defense in the first half with seven tackles (6 solo) and a tackle-for-loss.
The Lions mirrored their previous scoring drive of seven plays and 75 yards after Ferguson caught his second touchdown of the contest hauling in a nine-yard pass from Brown with 4:39 left in the third quarter. After an unsportsmanlike penalty, the Lions were pushed back 15 yards and the PAT kick failed to make the score 27-14. Jones hit Quadrin Williams on a 53-yard touchdown pass to trim the Lions lead to just six points (27-21) with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Mars Hill then used an 11-play, 70-yard drive to not only score their fifth time in the game but also drain 5:21 off the clock. After Craig Rucker kept the drive alive on a five rush on third-and-four at the UNC Pembroke 11 yard line, Brown dove in from a yard out two plays later to extend the Lions advantage to 34-21 with 59 ticks left in regulation. Wrice sealed the win with an interception in the endzone as time expired to make the final tally 34-21 in favor of the visitors.
Mars Hill will host SAC rival Newberry next Saturday in their annual Senior Day and Hall of Fame Game. Kickoff in the Ammons Family Athletic Center and Meares Stadium is set for 1 p.m.