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Dwayne McGee
Dwayne McGee ran for a program playoff record 216 yards in the win over top seeded Benedict.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Football Defeats Catawba, Will Play in SAC Championship

The No. 15/16 Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team captured the 24th conference championship in program history with a 28-7 victory over Catawba on Senior Day at Moretz Stadium in front of a crowd of over 7,000 on Saturday. The win moves the Bears on to the SAC Championship where they will play Tusculum in a rematch of the first-ever SAC Championship game in the 2020-21 COVID season.

The Bears drew first blood with a 35-yard strike from Sean White to DeAree Rogers at the 10:41 mark of the first quarter. Eight-and-a-half minutes later, White hit Deondre Lester over the middle for a 48-yard TD connection as LR jumped up 14-0.

The last play of the first half resulted in a 1-yard QB sneak by White to give him three first half TD’s and put the Bears up 21-0 going into the break.

On the first drive of the second half, Catawba took the ball and went 70 yards on seven plays to pull within 21-7 on a 3-yard touchdown pass. That was just the second TD LR allowed at home all season. The third quarter touchdown broke a string of 16 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown at home.

The Bears would answer when White’s third TD pass and fourth TD of the game hit Malakei Sumner in the corner of the end zone with 9:25 left in the third quarter. The defenses would stand tall and neither team would score in the final 24 minutes of the game.

The Bears held Catawba to 44 yards rushing on 37 attempts and just 232 yards of total offense on 70 plays. Offensively, LR had 418 yards and ran for 228 yards, 6.9 yards per play.

White finished the game 15-of-23 for 190 yards and added four carries for 19 yards. Dwayne McGee surpassed 1,000 yards on the season and finished with 96 yards on just 12 carries and had 89 yards on just his first eight attempts. Lester had six grabs for 96 yards and a touchdown.

There were no shortage of standouts defensively. Jon Ross Maye had 14 total tackles and two pass break ups while D.J. Taylor had nine tackles and three sacks. Andre Jefferson had four tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, a pass break up and a QB hurry. As a team, LR had seven sacks.

This was the 102nd all-time meeting between LR and Catawba and the series drew exactly even. Each team has won 49 times with four games resulting in a tie.

LR lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter, the first two fumbles lost on the season.

The seven sacks are tied for the second-most in a single game in the NCAA era. Jefferson and Taylor each had three sacks which is the fourth-highest total in a single game in program history.

Stewart Simmons had four punts downed inside the 20, the third-most in a game in the NCAA era.

The Bears are now 60-21 at home since the start of the 2010 season.

Lenoir-Rhyne improves to 9-1 overall, 7-1 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears are now on to the SAC Championship where they will meet the Mountain Division Champion Tusculum. The Pioneers knocked off Mars Hill in overtime. Kick off is set for 1 p.m. in Greeneville, Tenn.