JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Despite a career-high output by junior fullback B.J. McCoy, the Shorter Hawks found themselves a victim of poor field position and turnovers when they were handed a 20-7 non-conference defeat by the Carson-Newman Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
The setback was Shorter’s first of the regular season heading into back-to-back road trips against Division I FCS teams over the next two weeks, the first coming next Saturday when the Hawks head to Kennesaw to take on the Kennesaw State Owls.
The win improves Carson-Newman, picked to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference, to 2-0.
McCoy ended the game leading all ball carriers gaining 139 yards on 18 carries, his longest run coming in the first quarter when he exploded for a 77-yard touchdown run that was the longest for the Hawks since 2013.
That, however, was the lone offensive bright spot for the Hawks – they were only able to work the ball into Carson-Newman territory just three times – as they finished the afternoon with just 242 total yards, 172 of that on the ground.
The Eagles finished with 296 total yards, but made the most of excellent field position – four of their last five drives in the second half started on Shorter’s side of the field – and converted a fumble and an interception by the Hawks into a touchdown and a field goal, respectively.
After the two teams were unable to mount any threats on their first possessions of the game, the Eagles found the groove on their second series of the afternoon by mounting an 80-yard drive that culminated when Damian Baker found the end zone from seven yards out with 5:29 left in the first quarter. Carson Wise added the extra point.
The Hawks, however, didn’t waste any time answering Carson-Newman and on the third play from scrimmage, McCoy found an opening on the right side, broke three tackles and raced 77 yards for the touchdown, with Kenny Langford connecting on the point after to tie the game with 1:36 to go in the first.
The deadlock remained until late in the half when the Eagles capitalized on field position and a Shorter fumble.
Although the Hawks were able to force the home team come away empty-handed when the Eagles missed a 22-yard field goal attempt and on the next series took over on downs with a goal-line stand at their own 9, Shorter was unable to move the ball away from their own end zone and on their third series of the second quarter fumbled the ball away at the Shorter 19 to give Carson-Newman yet another attempt to break the tie.
That they did five plays later when Baker added his second touchdown of the day, this time scoring on a 1-yard run.
The second half opened much the way the first half ended with the Eagles maintaining field position and making the most another Shorter turnover.
With 4:35 remaining in the third quarter, Carson-Newman increased its lead to 17-7 when Wise split the uprights with a 26-yard field goal and after they picked off a Shorter pass at the Hawks’ 20, added three more points when Wise connected with a 36-yard FG.
Other than McCoy’s output, the Hawks got 70 passing yards from quarterback DeVante James, who completed 4 of 12 passes and was picked off once.
Zach Butts headed up Shorter’s defense with 15 total tackles, Jordan Shaw added 11 and Dominique Henfield had 10.
Carson-Newman, which did not turn the ball over at all in the game, was led by Baker and Montavious Taylor, who combined for 164 rushing yards, while quarterback De’Andre Thomas completed 9 of 16 passes for 88 yards.