SALISBURY — After surviving close calls the previous few weeks, Saturday afternoon’s contest was never in doubt for the Lenoir-Rhyne football team. Seven different players scored for the Bears as they defeated Catawba 49-3 to complete the second 11-0 regular season in program history.
Quarterback Grayson Willingham gave L-R (11-0, 8-0 South Atlantic Conference) a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:55 left in the first quarter before Catawba’s Clayton Crile responded with a 39-yard field goal at the 2:30 mark.
From there, the Bears ended the day with 42 unanswered points. Ameen Stevens recorded a 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter before Willingham found Deondre Lester for an 18-yard TD pass and Ryan Carter scored on a 5-yard TD scamper to make it 28-3 at halftime.
Willingham tossed his second TD of the game 45 seconds into the third quarter, connecting with Drake Starks for a 43-yard scoring strike. Then, after Josh Stewart scored from 5 yards out in the final minute of the period, Tre Luttrell capped the scoring with a 4-yard TD run with 4:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Willingham completed 8 of 11 passes for 129 yards and two TDs, while L-R’s running game amassed 300 yards and five scores on 57 carries. Stevens was the Bears’ leading rusher with 71 yards and a TD on 15 carries, with Dareke Young adding three receptions for 46 yards to pace their air attack.
Kaylon Wade completed 15 of 26 passes for 130 yards for the Indians (1-10, 0-8), but he was picked off twice. Yannis N’Guetta and Javoris Smith tallied the interceptions for the Bears.
The NCAA Division II playoffs begin next Saturday. The Bears will be at home against a yet-to-be-named opponent.