Hickory, N.C. - The Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team (5-2, 3-1) rallied from an 18-point deficit to stun Mars Hill (5-3, 4-1), 34-21, in a South Atlantic Conference showdown Saturday afternoon at Moretz Stadium.
Trailing 21-3 in the third quarter, L-R scored the game's last 31 points keyed by touchdowns runs of 31 and 47 yards, respectively, by sophomore halfback Jarrod Spears (Bunnlevel, N.C.) as the Bears won their fourth straight game.
Spears finished with a game-high 125 yards on the ground while junior halfback Graham Duncan (Gainesville, Ga.) added 100 yards rushing for the Bears, who won their 10th consecutive home game as well.
L-R sophomore defensive back Joe Anderson (Lilburn, Ga.) led all tacklers with 14 takedowns and returned an interception 26 yards for a score which proved to be the game-winner late in the third stanza for Lenoir-Rhyne.
Mars Hill quarterback Jon Richt (Watkinsville, Ga.) hit Dimitri Holmes (Athens, Ga.) for a 17-yard touchdown pass with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter to give the Lions a 21-3 lead before L-R began its run.
Richt completed 38 passes for 487 yards, both school records, and now has the new Mars Hill single-season mark of 2,262 yards through the air despite the loss.
Holmes, meanwhile, caught a school-record 16 passes for 179 yards and a score and Jasper Mason (Columbus, Ga.) tallied 13 tackles on defense in the losing effort.
L-R, the top rushing team in NCAA Division II, finished with 321 yards on the ground while sophomore defensive back O'neil Blake (Kissimmee, Fla.) added 12 tackles for the Bears, who clinched their third straight non-losing season.
Lenoir-Rhyne faces Wingate (5-3, 4-1) in another key South Atlantic Conference showdown next Saturday in Wingate, N.C., beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Mars Hill, who saw its five-game winning streak snapped, looks to bounce back next Saturday when the Lions face Tusculum in its home finale beginning at 1:00 p.m.