The Black and Gold dropped their final home contest of the 2018 season at Grace P. Johnson Stadium to the Eagles of Carson-Newman University in a mistake riddled 34-13 defeat that lead to the final box score not reflecting how closely contested this game true was.
Banged-up Offensive Line Performed Well:
Despite only dressing a handful off healthy offensive linemen and having all five starters up front be first year players, they preformed very admirably and were not to blame for the offense’s woes or short comings in this match up. They opened lanes for the runningbacks, provided several clean pockets and didn’t yield a sack until their very last drive of the game.
“There was a lot of good. I kept watching them in terms of pass protection…There’s a lot of youth and there’s a lot of room for those guys to continue to get better. To be able to show flashes, move the ball, protect, run the ball and do some things…I know that they’re getting better and I know that it will pay off here,” said Head Coach Shane Richardson.
Untimely Turnovers Killed Momentum:
Even though the Black and Gold only lost one of their four fumbles on the day and Jones only had one of his passes get picked off, both turnovers resulted in touchdowns for the Eagles.
Jones’ interception came as the Braves were trying to mount a comeback late in the fourth quarter down two scores and was taken back for a 28-yard touchdown the other way.
On the lost fumble receiver Eric Price had gotten to the left edge of the CNU defense after taking a handoff from the jet sweep when he was stripped. It came as the Braves were driving deep into the Eagles’ territory and on the very next play the defense yielded a 75-yard touchdown jaunt.
Rush Defense Continues to get Gashed:
As stout as the Braves defensive front seven were at times in this matchup and even had three defensive linemen finish with more than five tackles, they were not able to keep the Eagles’ potent option rushing attack from popping big runs.
The unit found themselves out of position at times and the CNU runningbacks found and hit those open rushing lanes for chunk plays and long touchdowns. They allowed a net gain of 438 yards on 56 carries, two 100-yard rushers and four scores on the ground.
“They try to lull you to sleep a little bit and all of a sudden if you’re not disciplined enough, everybody fitting it perfectly then that can happen,” said Richardson
Mixed Results for Jones in Extended Action:
Jones got his most extensive look as the team’s fulltime starter after splitting time with redshirt freshman Joshua Dale throughout games this season. He started off quite well completing 5-7 in the first quarter and posted a completion percentage of over 50 percent in the first half.
However, he and the offense as a whole would cool off and stall out in the second half and would only add field goal the rest of the way. While some of his targets did struggle with drops, Jones himself was often off target with some his passes, throwing behind or just missing some of his intended targets.