Football

Football Can't Overcome Early Deficit in Playoff Loss to Tuskegee

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SALISBURY, N.C. -- Tuskegee used two big first-quarter pass plays and went on to down host Catawba 26-16 in a first round game of the 2015 NCAA II Football Playoffs.  The sixth-seeded Golden Tigers (9-2), ranked 23rd in the AFCA Coaches Poll, advance to face second-seeded North Alabama in the second round.  The Catawba Indians, ranked 25th and seeded third, ends their season at 9-3. 

Kevin Lacey completed 10-of-18 passes for 219 yards and two scores to lead Tuskegee.  Dennis Norfleet ran for 88 yards with 77 coming in the final half.  Jewell Ratliff made 10 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Mike Sheehan threw for 305 yards for Catawba, completing 38-of-47 passes.  Carlos Tarrats set a school record with 14 receptions.  Kyle Kitchens recorded a pair of sacks to bring his season total to 13.

Lacey capped an opening 7-play, 72-yard drive with a 39-yard strike to Peyton Ramsey to stake Tuskegee to a lead it never relinquished.  After blocking a Catawba field goal try, the Golden Tigers struck again.  On the first play after the block, Lacey tossed a 45-yard pass to Marquel Gardner then connected with Travis Hawkins for 25 yards to the Catawba two.  Jerome Lewis scored the touchdown on the next play for a 14-0 edge.

The score stayed 14-0 until late in the third quarter.  A reverse pass from Keyon West to Gary Williams for 25 yards got the Indians going.  Williams scored on the next play as he took a reverse sweep for a 45-yard touchdown as Catawba cut the lead to 14-7 at the 3:35 mark of the quarter.

Tuskegee fumbled the ensuing kickoff after a return to midfield and Catawba was able to add a 25-yard field goal from Chad Hollandsworth to close the gap to 14-10 with 13:21 remaining. 

The Golden Tiger regained control with a 63-yard drive in four plays that was capped by Lacey’s 12-yard pass to Leo Gilbert.  Ratliff then made his big play, intercepting Sheehan and returning it 45 yards for a score to give Tuskegee a 26-10 lead with 7:27 remaining.

Catawba scored just a little over a minute later on a four-yard pass from Sheehan to West.  The Indians failed on a two-point conversion and lost the ball on downs on its next possession and Tuskegee was able to run out the clock.

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