Limestone rallies to 30-24 overtime win over Tusculum in SAC debut

Limestone rallies to 30-24 overtime win over Tusculum in SAC debut
GAFFNEY, S.C. --- Jerko'ya Patton rushed for 134 yards and scored the tying and game-winning touchdowns to give the Limestone Saints a 30-24 overtime win over the Tusculum Pioneers Saturday night at The Reservation in the South Atlantic Conference football opener for both teams.
The Saints (2-1, 1-0 SAC), who were making their league debut as a SAC associate member, record their second consecutive overtime win in as many weeks, following last Saturday's 20-17 home win over Benedict.
Patton's three-yard touchdown run with 33.7 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 24-24 to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive and send the game into overtime.
Limestone won the coin toss in OT and elected to go on defense first. The Pioneers gained one yard on its three offensive plays to start the extra period.  Isaac Gallegos attempted a 41-yard field goal but it was blocked at the line and fell short.  After the play, Limestone was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct moving the ball back to the 40 to start their series in overtime.
But on the Saints' first play, Patton ran up the middle for the game-winning 40-yard touchdown to end the game.
Limestone out-gained the Pioneers 298-182 in offensive yardage, but the Tusculum defense forced six turnovers which senior Matt Simon converted into two defensive touchdowns (fumble return, interception return).   The Pioneers committed two turnovers themselves resulting into 10 points for the Saints.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tusculum defense came up with the first points of the game when Limestone quarterback Ivan Corbin was stripped of the football by Ivan Hogans. Simon scooped up the loose ball with one hand and returned the fumble up the sideline for a 20-yard touchdown.  Gallegos kick made it 7-0 Tusculum with 7:13 left before halftime.
Later in the quarter, the Saints took advantage of a TC turnover when Pioneer QB Alex Ogle was intercepted by CJ Blackmon who returned the pick 43 yards to the TC 27.  The Saints lost seven total yards on the next three plays, but Nick Smith came on a kicked a school-record 51-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 with 2:29 to go.
The two teams combined for four turnovers in the third quarter, all resulting into points for the opposition.
Tusculum cashed in on the first one when Martez Thompkins recorded his sixth interception of his career with at the LC 32.  TC marched down the field in five plays capped off by a two-yard run by Maxwell Joseph for his fifth touchdown of the season to extend the Pioneer lead to 14-3 at the 12:14 mark of the third.
The Saints moved into Tusculum territory on their next possession, but Corbin fumbled the snap which was recovered by TC's Devin Woodson at the TC 38.
On its first play, Ogle completed a 47-yard pass to Keondre Banks to the LC 15.  The Pioneers would get to the one-yard line, but came up empty on its next two plays as TC would settle for an 18-yard Gallegos field goal as Tusculum led 17-3 with 6:21 left in the quarter.
The Saints who had been held in check offensively for the most of the game, put together a 12-play, 70-yard drive resulting in a one-yard Corbin TD run to trim the deficit to 17-10 with 1:19 to go.
Tusculum's Jay Boyd fumbled the ensuing kickoff and was recovered at the TC 35.  On the first play from scrimmage, TC was whistled for pass interference.  Three plays later, Corbin found Jumill Hornsby in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.  Smith's kick tied the game at 17-17 with 21:1 seconds left in the quarter.
With 9:07 left in the game, Simon came up with his second defensive touchdown when he picked off Corbin and returned the interception 29 yards for the score and a 24-17 lead for the Pioneers.
The two teams would exchange possessions as the Saints took over at their own 20-yard line with 3:52 left in regulation to set up the game-tying drive.
Patton accounted for 134 of the Saints' 169 rushing yards on the night, while Corbin went 13-of-24 for 129 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions while being sacked four times.
Ogle passed for a season-low 111 yards, going 10-of-26 with one interception and was also sacked on four occasions.  Joseph was TC's top rusher finishing with 70 yards on 18 carries and a TD.
Both punters had an outstanding night for their respective teams.  Tusculum's Hunter Cantrell averaged 45.5 yards on his six punts including two inside the 20-yard line with a long of 56 yards.  Cantrell also posted his 200th punt for his career.  Limestone's Alex Haynes averaged 44 yards per punt on his four attempts.
TC senior Evan Altizer established a school record as he returned his 71st punt of his career, breaking the previous mark (70) set by All-American Donald Amaker.
Tusculum's Dee Alford and Jay Boyd led the Pioneers with 10 tackles each, while L'Keith Brown finished with nine tackles, including one for loss.  Simon added seven tackles to his outstanding defensive effort as he became the first Pioneer in program history to return both an interception and a fumble for a touchdown in the same game.
Limestone's Titus Williams finished the game with a team-high nine tackles in the victory.
Tusculum will travel to UNC Pembroke next Saturday night for a 7 p.m. non-conference game against the Braves.