The Newberry Wolves fought back from down two scores in the first half and an Alstevis Squirewell (Great Falls) 41-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sealed the Wolves’ 35-28 win over Catawba in the South Atlantic Conference opener for both teams at Setzler Field on Saturday evening.
Newberry moves to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in SAC play with the win, while Catawba falls to 2-1 and 0-1 in the league. Newberry hosts Carson-Newman at 6:30 p.m. Saturday to wrap up the season-opening four game homestand. The win gives Newberry its first three-game winning streak to open a season since 2007.
The Wolves did their damage in the air on both offense and defense. The defense intercepted Catawba quarterback B.J. Sherrill five times, with Brian Spencer (Columbia) snagging two picks, while Squirewell’s pick was followed by interceptions by Lance Robertson (Ware Shoals.) and Taniel Massey (Lancaster) kept Catawba off the board late.
On offense, quarterback W.T. Murden (West Columbia) completed 27-of-42 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns. Jason Livingston (Conway) had four receptions for 102 yards and touchdowns of 16 and 61 yards, while Corey Washington (North Charleston) had eight catches for 96 yards and a 20-yard score. Byron Dickerson (Atlanta, Ga.) caught a 27-yard touchdown pass.
Newberry opened the scoring with 4:15 left in the first quarter on the Murden-to-Washington connection from 20 yards out before Catawba took advantage of Newberry miscues to score three touchdowns in just under a minute and a half in the second quarter.
After Sherrill found Tyler Hamilton for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 14:54 left in the half to tie the game at 7-all, Newberry fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and the visitors needed just two plays and 55 seconds to take a 14-7 lead on a 12-yard Sherrill-to-Hamilton scoring pass. The lead was pushed to 21-7 after Catawba’s Jumal Rolle recovered a fumble on Newberry’s first play and took it to the 1-yardline, where Sherrill needed just one play to find paydirt.
The Wolves cut the lead to one score with an impressive 13-play, 93-yard drive which was capped by the 16-yard Murden-to-Livingston touchdown. Catawba made it a 28-14 halftime score on the next drive after just three plays, with the score coming on a 25-yard pass from Merrill to Jarrid McKinney.
The second was a different story. Catawba attempted to convert a fourth down play on its second drive of the third quarter, but was stuffed at the Newberry 39-yardline. Murden found Livingston behind the defense on the first and only play of the next drive for a 61-yard touchdown, making it a 28-21 game.
After a Catawba punt, the Wolves would tie the game on a six play, 44-yard drive capped by the 27-yard touchdown pass from Murden to Dickerson.
With the game in the balance, pressure in the backfield on Sherrill made the difference, as Squirewell leapt up and snagged his pass instead of going for the sack. From there, it was nothing but green turf for the redshirt freshman, who ran to the endzone untouched.
Catawba kept Newberry’s offense out of the endzone, but the Wolves’ defense kept the clamps on, ending Catawba’s fourth quarter drives with three interceptions and a fourth down stop in the Newberry red zone.
Apollo Stretch (Columbia) led the Wolves with seven tackles, while B.J. Mazyck (Ridgeville.) had six stops with three tackles for a loss. Neither team recorded a sack, but the Wolves pressured Sherrill all night with 16 quarterback hurries and eight tackles for loss in the running game. Catawba was held to 54 yards on 28 rushes.
Newberry’s offensive line kept Murden upright, allowing no sacks once again. The Wolves have allowed only two sacks in the last 15 games. On special teams, Kyle Makcey (New Ellenton) made all five PAT attempts and JoJo Morris (Lancaster) averaged 39.2 yards per punt.