September 16, 2001
Catawba wide receivers finally get ‘out' of slumpBy Bret Strelow, The Salisbury Post
WINGATE — Wideouts Nick Means and Arnold Gaither both have a lot to prove this year.
Catawba’s duo of outside receivers picked Saturday to finally get in on the action.
Means and Gaither combined for 10 catches and 125 receiving yards in the Indians’ 12-0 win against Wingate.
The two players had totaled only three receptions for 14 yards in Catawba’s first two games. Instead, the Indians’ slot receivers were getting most of the catches.
“Me and Nick were talking about this all week. Nick said it’s our turn,” Gaither said. “It’s time for us on the outside to do our thing.”
That they did. Gaither came up big in the waning moments of the first half, then Means stole the spotlight in the third quarter.
Means scored on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Scott Sensing with 1:19 left in the third to give Catawba a 12-0 lead.
Sensing, who hit his elbow on a Wingate helmet on a throw in the Indians’ previous series, pumped once and connected with Means on a pass down the right sideline.
Sensing was still hurting from the hit, and his pass to Means was underthrown. But Means reached over the back of Wingate DB Derrick Bryant, caught the ball and raced the final 20 yards into the end zone.
“His fingers were numb, so he couldn’t hold the ball real good,”Means said. “He threw it up, I came back — it was a jump ball — and luckily I caught it. It was a foot-race from there on.”
Means, a preseason first-team All-SAC selection, came into the game with only two catches for nine yards. But he had seven receptions for 89 yards against the Bulldogs.
“The SAC coaches sort of set expectations for me, but I set bigger expectations for myself over the summer,”Means said. “When I’m working out, I try to set high goals for myself. As long as I strive for those goals, I won’t go wrong.”
Gaither, a senior from North Iredell, is running out of time to fulfill his goals. But he is intent on finishing his Catawba career with a bang.
Gaither caught three passes for 36 yards in the first half, all of which produced first downs for the struggling Indian offense.
Two of his three catches came on Catawba’s final drive before the break, which led to a 39-yard field goal by Matt Gross.
Sensing found the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Gaither over the middle for 15 yards to give Catawba a first down at the Wingate 31.
On the next play, Sensing hit Gaither over the middle again, this time for a gain of 13 yards with 25 seconds left before halftime.
“I don’t know how they missed me, but everybody has a position to play, a spot to go to,” said Gaither of his ability to sneak into an opening in the middle of the field. “I guess I just got lucky and got open, and the quarterback found me.”
That’s not that tough of a job for Sensing.
“If I miss up and throw it high, I know A.G. can go get it,”he said.
Catawba’s next tallest receivers in the regular rotation on Saturday — Means and O.J. Lennon — are five inches shorter than Gaither.
Gaither is nine inches taller than Bulldog cornerback Terrance Johnson, who guarded him for much of the afternoon.
“He’s a big target for the quarterback to throw to,” Means said. “A lot of guys think he’s slow because he’s so big and looks like a tight end out there, but he has the skill and agility to play wideout. It’s a big asset for him to be so big.”
Up until Saturday, Gaither wasn’t getting the chance to show it. He entered the game with one catch for four yards.
The Indians’ two slot receivers — Lennon and Cedric Squirewell — caught 56 percent of the Indians’ completed passes in two games.
Gaither, the only senior in the bunch, was happy to be part of the act.
“I’m still out to prove myself as a senior, as a wide receiver,” Gaither said. “I’m ready to prove myself.”
Gaither and Means figured out in the week leading up to the Wingate game that Saturday might be the best chance for both of them to do just that.
“We looked at the film, two of the inside guys had big games in the last two games,”Means said. “We hadn’t had many balls thrown at us, so we knew our time was coming, just be patient.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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