Concord

Mountain Lion pride... Senior defensive back Ola Adams, left, and his Concord University teammates gang tackle UNC–Pembroke running back Rashon Kennedy on Senior Day, Saturday at Callaghan Stadium-June O. Shott Field in Athens.

ATHENS — In the last home game of the season, the seniors on the Concord University football team got a prize they’d been thirsting after — a win to break a 15-game losing streak.

The Mountain Lions shut out the University of North Carolina–Pembroke 10-0 on Saturday afternoon in Athens for the program’s first win since September 2006.

As the clock ran out, the whole celebratory tableau broke out at once. Head coach Greg Quick got doused by a cooler of icy drink, a sideline attendant slung a football a good 30 feet into the air, and the players rushed the field as fans whooped.

Quick said, “Often you talk about, ‘Let’s go out and play and have fun.’ And it’s not that, it’s work. ... The fun comes when that clock went to zero-zero. When that clock went zero-zero, I was exhilarated.”

Senior Tank Tunstalle, the runner-turned-linebacker, said, “Amazing, man. We’ve been battling all year; we’ve been through a lot of adversity. For everybody to come out and play together and fight for this team, that means a lot to me.”

Senior guard Joe Black, the anchor of the offensive line, said, “It feels wonderful. It’s my last time being on this field, so it’s nice to get a ‘W’ on it. This means everything to us. ... It’s a win. We’ll take it.”

Defensive lineman Aaron Lowe said, “I’ve got to give all the credit in the world to the ‘D.’ The defense stepped up. And the offense, when we needed points, they put points on the board. And that’s what a team consists of. We got it done today.”

The Braves of UNC–P drove 89 yards in the second quarter and threatened to put up the game’s first score, but turned the ball over on a fumble at the Concord 8.

The home squad executed its own drive, spiced up by a lateral pass from quarterback Tommy Frazier to senior Dustin Greenwood — who then threw downfield to Chris O’Neal for a 29-yard gain. That helped set up a 42-yard field goal by Zach Boyd with 5:04 left before halftime.

The Mountain Lions left the field with the 3-0 lead and a lot of resolve.

Lowe said, “At halftime, we basically said, ‘There’s no way they’re going to beat us. We’re going to go out and put a stop to it.’ ”

“This is ours,” Tunstalle remembered thinking. “We knew, when we got up by 3 (points) that this is our game. We worked hard. ... It seems like we give things away in the fourth quarter. So our coaches kept on us, saying ‘This is not over. ... If we play hard for 60 minutes, we will come out victorious.’ ”

Black said, “Going into the half, we knew that we were doing pretty much whatever we wanted to do to them up front. We just had to shore up on a couple of assignment issues that we’ve having the whole year. We finally got it taken care of.”

The Braves began the second half with a 77-yard kick return by Brandon McLaurin, but Greenwood caught up with him, made the tackle, forced a fumble and then recovered the ball.

Greenwood wasn’t done yet. He forced another fumble on special teams, unleashing a textbook hit on a UNC-Pembroke returner near the sideline in front of the home stands.

Greenwood said his coaches had talked to the special teams unit about “biting the ball, and the techniques of tackling. And it actually worked (if) you just listen, and do things right.”

He said the jarring hit “felt great. I just wanted to energize the guys and get everybody going. We needed some excitement. We needed some energy. We haven’t really had much, all year. I’m just glad I was able to do that, and provide some spark.”

The visitors fanned the spark by fumbling on their own field-goal try. Braves’ head coach Pete Shinnick, a two-year letterman as a guard at Colorado, said, “Special teams definitely played a big part.”

Concord defensive back Colby Whitfield grabbed two key fourth-quarter interceptions. He returned the first 25 yards to pave the way for a six-play scoring drive.

On fourth and goal from the 8, Frazier passed to senior Ron Buskey, who leaped above the end-zone turf for the game’s only touchdown grab.

Shinnick said, “I thought our defense played very well. If we don’t throw the interception, and give them the ball at the 25, I don’t think they score that touchdown.”

Whitfield later intercepted QB Ryan Horton in the end zone to stop another threat.

Tunstalle said about Whitfield, “He played great. He came through. He came through and played big. He played real big today, and helped us a lot.”

Quick praised his defensive assistants and said the unit “rose to the occasion” for the win. “Our defense, not only winning, but winning with a goose egg — that’s very hard (to do) in college football today.”

Frazier passed for 190 yads; Orlando Bryant led all rushers with 69 yards.

Boyd punted nine times for a 39.9 yard average. The Braves had six fumbles, losing four.

The victory came against a first-year program, but a team that has won four games with six losses.

Shinnick said, “These are hard to swallow while you’re going through them, but (you’ve) got to be realistic at times.

“I would have liked to see us play a little cleaner game, and do things a little better, but Coach Quick did a good job of putting together a good game plan against us, and his guys out-executed us.”

Quick said that Shinnick “has done a wonderful job with that program in its formative stages. They’re going to be a very formidable opponent in the future.”

The Mountain Lions (1-9) conclude the season on Saturday afternoon at Fairmont State.

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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