November 22, 2003
(Valdosta-AP) -- Carson-Newman erupted for 22 points in the first quarter and Valdosta State was never able to recover with the Eagles posting a 35-to-29 victory today in the opening round of the NCAA Division Two playoffs.
The Eagles (11-1), who face North Alabama in the second round next week, scored on the game's third play when Shane Kelley hit tight end Leonard Weaver on a 67-yard pass, and after Weaver caught a two-point conversion from holder Joey King, Carson-Newman led 8-to-0.
The Eagles extended the lead late in the first quarter when Kelley ended a six-play, 77-yard drive with a one-yard sneak. Valdosta State struck on the ensuing kickoff when Tyran Robinson went 98 yards untouched to cut the lead to 15-to-7.
But the Eagles' Mikkail Jenkins returned the Blazer kickoff 76 yards to the VSU 18, and on the first play Kelley and Weaver teamed up again for the touchdown and a 22-to-7 lead.
Carson-Newman stretched the lead to 25-7 on Angel Gonzalez' 42-yard field goal midway the second quarter before the Blazers cut it to 25-to-14 at the half, driving 50 yards in five plays and scoring on a nine-yard pass from Barrett Wilkes to Nekeyma Wright. VSU pulled to within three midway through the third quarter when Wilkes capped a six-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard run.
The Blazers were driving for the lead late in the period when Wilkes was intercepted at the C-N 18 by Tiger Williams, who returned it to midfield, setting up a 48-yard Gonzalez field goal three plays later. It was Williams' second interception of the game. He stopped a Blazer drive with a second quarter pick in the end zone after VSU had driven to the Eagle 14.
The Eagles stretched the lead to 35-to-22 on Rayvon Howard's 13-yard run before the Blazers ended the scoring on Wilkes' 28-yard pass to Andre Zellner with 5:01 to play.
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