December 13, 2007
It's a Wonderful Life: Football Recap
The Catawba football team saw its surprising season end in the second round of the NCAA II Playoffs against #8 Valdosta State. The Indians were tabbed fourth in the pre-season league poll, but nearly pulled off an undefeated season, losing only at Tusculum 31-28. That loss came at the end of a stretch of games that saw Catawba face Mars Hill on national television, take on the defending league champs in Newberry and top Carson-Newman on the road 55-49 for its first win in Jefferson City in 20 years.
Catawba answered the loss at Tusculum by winning its final three regular season games to earn its first league title since 2003 and a berth in the NCAA II Playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Tribe crushed Albany State 66-35 in the opening round of the playoffs to give SAC Coach of the Year Chip Hester his first post-season win as the Catawba Indians' coach. It also marked the first home playoff game in the renovated Shuford Stadium.
Quarterback Brad Roach, who was named the SAC Offensive Player of the Year, put in a stellar senior season as he broke school
records for passing (3,322 yards) and touchdowns (32). He also set marks for completions (224) and pass efficiency (153.6). He broke one school game record in the playoff win over Albany State by throwing five TD passes, but he put on his best show against Carson-Newman when he completed 37-of-64 passes for 486 yards and four scores. Senior receiver Brent Johnson was Roach's top target and became just the second Catawba player to catch 60 passes in a season. He set a record in the win over Carson-Newman with 13 receptions. For the season, he tallied the third best season yardage total at 858 which fell just behind junior teammate Antwan Strong, who amassed 891 receiving yards.
Another record-breaking player was junior George Bell. The Virginia Tech transfer topped Lee Spears' 1948 scoring record of 104 points by scoring 20 touchdowns in the year to pile up 122 points. His 18 rushing touchdowns were three more than the previous mark of 15 held by George Zengale (1930) and Red Meehan (1935).
Senior backfield mate Kory Fisher finished his career as Catawba's #2 all-time rusher with 2,623 yards which included a record 1,079 yards as a sophomore.
Catawba's offense shattered previous marks for points and yardage as the Tribe scored over 30 points in all but three games. The Catawba Indians finished the year with 578 points and averaged 44.5 points per game. The old marks were 403 points for a 36.6 average in 2004.
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