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Pressley wins 3rd Conference Carolinas Specialist of the Week Season Award

PEMBROKE – In front of the biggest crowd this season on Homecoming, two third quarter games for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke football team rocked the crowd in Saturday’s game against Charleston.

That buzz then erupted when the Braves’ Taye Vereen intercepted Charleston’s Guy Myers on a fourth and a goal with 13 seconds left, sealing a 21-14 victory for the Braves.

“I can’t even think about what happened, it happened so fast,” Vereen said. “I just have to thank God for being able to play. The coach called the game good, everyone handled the game perfectly; It couldn’t be better than this.

In a fourth quarter almost entirely consumed by just two drives, Charleston (5-2, 5-2 Mountain East Conference) had traveled 73 yards after starting possession with 7:05 remaining when Gerardo Guerra Rivera missed a field goal attempt from 39 yards. that would have put the Braves in place of two possessions.

A pass interference call on UNCP (5-3, 5-2 MEC) brought Charleston to the 5-yard line for the first and goal with 1:13 to go; a penalty, two points and a failure set up the play of the fourth and the goal. The defensive stoppage marked the third straight week as a late defensive stance sealed a victory for the Braves.

“We won three games in a row, and they were close, and we found a way to win,” said UNCP coach Shane Richardson. “I think that’s the thing we need to focus on is that we’ve found a way to be on top. We have found a way to persevere and ride this wave of adversity and have our backs to the wall.

The two big plays in the third quarter, one on defense and the other on offense, had given the Braves the lead.

The first came when Myers tried to squeeze a quarterback into the end zone on the fourth and the goal at the 1-yard line and was pissed off by the Braves’ defense, keeping the score tied at 14- 14 with 8:57 left in the third quarter. Cam Lowery and Marcus Davis were credited with the tackle – although the 11 Braves were involved in building the brick wall Myers was able to break through.

“If they score there, if we don’t stop them there, it’s a whole different thinking process, it’s a whole different sense of urgency in the way we run the game,” said Richardson. . “So it was huge. When you can set up a pit on the goal line it’s rare, and I couldn’t be more proud of how these guys got in.

The goal line stand was one of three stops inside the 5-yard line by the Braves defense, including the late interception, and one of five red zone stops.

“I think those were way more valuable than the last game, to be honest, because it shows how strong we are as a defense and how we don’t allow them to get yards in the zone. red, ”Vereen said. “5 (yard line) and inside it’s very difficult to stop there, and that is a testament to the quality of our training and our good practice. “

In the previous play, Myers nearly scored on a 6-yard run, being ruled out of the 1-yard line limits as he reached the pylon. The drive was set up when Josh Saunders of the Golden Eagles intercepted Josh Jones of the UNCP and ran back to the 19-yard line.

The second big play of the third quarter came two possessions for the Braves later with a double assist; Josh Jones threw a back pass to Rodney Smith on the straight sideline, who found Trey Dixon for a one-handed catch and a 45-yard touchdown. The game established the score of 21-14 which would ultimately be the final.

“It was like a movie,” said Smith, who also caught five passes for 97 yards. “This game with Trey, I just looked up and saw him grab it with one hand, and I was like, ‘oh my God, this can’t be real. “It was really good. It was probably the most excited game I have been in a football game in a long time.

“I’m not going to lie, I thought it was covered early on because he didn’t really bite the bubble (screen),” said Dixon, who caught six passes for 166 yards. “But then it was (in the air) and I was like, I have to catch it. My boy Rod, I told him I was going to give him his first (touchdown pass) when we pulled this game. “

Charleston’s Duane Bland recovered Jones after the goal line stoppage, before another stoppage in the red zone by the Braves’ defense – resulting in a failed 33-yard attempt by Tim McCutchen, who bounced off the left upright – set the stage for the double pass score. A 33-yard pass from Jones to Dixon gave the Braves midfielder a pass before the touchdown.

Charleston kicked off to start the fourth quarter; The UNCP were 7 minutes late with their next practice before Rivera’s failed basket.

After Vereen’s interception sealed the victory, UNCP celebrated on the pitch, showering Richardson with a Gatorade bath and securing the thrilling victory.

“Every win means a lot to us, but you could say it’s Homecoming, it’s a big game against Charleston, they beat us last year, so it’s up there in my book,” said Vereen. “It could be the # 1 win for me in program history, in my opinion, since playing.”

“It was just what it should be out there in terms of, the guys played extremely hard, we executed, there are some big games that you have to be excited about, there is the adversity that we have. had to overcome, ”said Richardson. “It was just good, and the crowd was behind us, and there was a lot of energy and excitement on their part.”

The victory keeps UNCP in the race for the MEC title; the Braves are now tied for third with Charleston, one game behind Notre Dame, which the Braves host on Nov. 6, and Frostburg State.

“This is what we want,” Vereen said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all week, just staying on our way, knowing our process and sticking to it. As the coaches say, stay on the train and we do. “

“You don’t want to play the ‘what if we win, what if we lose’ game. But if we hadn’t won the game there is a price for it and we fall back to .500 and it doesn’t feel good, ”said Richardson. “We knew what was at stake, and I think there were a few related posts that the guys were proud of.”

Josh Jones completed 15 of his 25 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown for UNCP.

Myers was 14-for-26 for 240 yards and rushed for 88 yards for the Golden Eagles.

After Devin Jones recovered from a fumble on Charleston’s second practice of the game, UNCP turned good field position into points in the next game when Josh Jones found Faheem Diaab for a 26-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked and returned by Kei Beckham for a defensive two-point conversion, bringing the score to 6-2.

McCutchen kicked a 30-yard field goal on Charleston’s next possession, creating a 6-5; The UNCP responded with a 9-yard touchdown from Joseph Early and a successful conversion pass from Josh Jones to CJ Davis, to take a 14-5 lead with 3:36 left in the half.

A Braves save in the red zone forced Charleston to kick a basket with 58 seconds left at the half as McCutchen converted from 22 yards; the Braves led 14-8 at halftime.

Charleston tied the game on the first play of the scrimmage in the second half, a 63-yard pass from Guy Myers to Colby Cooper. The extra point was not good, keeping the game tied at 14-14.

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