ROME, Ga. –- The Tusculum University football team scored 54 unanswered points including 31-point second quarter en route to a 61-14 victory at Shorter University Saturday afternoon at Barron Stadium.
The Pioneers (1-1) racked up 510 yards led by quarterback Tommy Pistone who passed 222 yards and three touchdowns while making his TU debut. Running back Maxwell Joseph rushed for 109 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns for his second straight 100-yard outing against the Hawks (0-2).
The 61-point outburst are tied for the 10th largest offensive output in program history while TU's 31-point second quarter is the fourth-highest scoring frame ever by a Pioneer squad.
TU senior kicker Joe Defatta was successful on all eight of his extra points and also nailed a 28-yard field goal for his 11 points. His eight extra points after tied for the fourth-most in the TU record book while his 11 kicking points scored are tied for ninth in Tusculum history.
Defensively, the Pioneers limited Shorter to 252 yards on the day including 62 rushing yards. Tusculum recorded a safety, forced two turnovers and blocked a field goal in the win.
Things looked promising for the Hawks as they drove the opening possession 75 yards in eight plays capped off by Tyler Pullum's 19-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Ross at the 11:39 mark of the first quarter. The extra-point was no good as Shorter led 6-0.
On the Pioneers first possession, TU drove to the Shorter 22-yard line but the SU defense forced a fumble and was recovered by the Hawks at the 18-yard line with 7:21 remaining.
The two teams traded punts and early the second quarter Defatta put the Pioneers on the board with his 28-yard field goal for his second of the year to trim the deficit to 6-3 with 13:23 before halftime.
The Tusculum defense set up the next score when Pullum was intercepted by Dee Alford. TU took over at the SU 17-yard line. On the first play, Joseph scampered in from 17 yards out for his first TD of the season and 10th of his career. Defatta's extra point gave TU the lead at 10-6 with 11:39 left in the quarter.
Shorter went three and out as Tusculum took over at its 29-yard line. Running back Jordon Shippy posted runs of 16 and five yards to move the ball to the 50. Two plays later, Pistone completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Ajay Belanger to extend the TU lead to 17-6 with 7:35 to go.
On the ensuing kickoff, TU's Kivontay Clinkscales recovered a fumble at the SU 15 to set up the Pioneers with the short field. Three plays later, Pistone found pay-dirt again with his second TD pass of the quarter, a 12-yard strike to Jacob Moss and a 24-6 lead for the visitors with 6:37 remaining before halftime.
After punt by the Hawks, Tusculum marched down the field with an 11-play, 51-yard drive that took 4:46 off the clock as Joseph ran in for a four-yard touchdown with 25 seconds on the scoreboard as TU carried a 31-6 lead into the locker room.
The Pioneers scored on the first possession of the second half as TU drove 65 yards on nine plays capped off by a six-yard TD run by Shippy as the lead swelled to 38-6 at the 11:15 mark of the third quarter. The big play of the drive came on a 37-yard pass completion from Pistone to Brian Burnett.
Great kickoff coverage by the Pioneers pinned the Hawks at the SU 15 yard-line. A false start penalty and a two-yard tackle for loss by Dee Alford had Shorter facing a second down and 17 yards to go from the SU 8. Pullum was sacked in the end zone by Josh Forrest for a safety as TU moved the lead to 40-6 with 10:20 in the third.
Tusculum took the free kick and returned to the Shorter 26-yardline. Joseph ran for 28 yards on second down and Pistone completed a 20-yard pass to Tory Ponder to get to the SU 6. Two plays later, Pistone completed his third TD pass of the game on a four-yard pass to Maurice Gomillion for a 47-6 lead with 6:51 on the scoreboard.
Early in the fourth quarter, Tusculum's Amaad Gandy blocked a Shorter field goal which was picked up by Lenny Roundtree and returned 30 yards to the SU 2 but was moved back to the 17 on a Tusculum penalty on the play.
Alex Ogle took over a quarterback for the Pioneers and completed a 12-yard pass to Deshawn Davis to the two-yardline. Fullback Will Boney ran it in from there to extend the lead to 54-6 with 10:54 left in the contest.
Shorter stopped the Tusculum spurt with a touchdown of its own on a Pullum three-yard pass to Elijah Gilbert. The two-point conversion was successful to make the score 54-14. Tusculum capped the scoring when Hunter Weismore completed a 23-yard TD pass to Aaron Fudge late in the game.
Pistone went 12-of-25 with no interceptions and was sacked twice. Ogle went 3-for-6 for 37 yards and Weismore was 2-of-3 for 48 yards and a TD. Shippy finished the game with 58 yards on 14 rushing attempts and a TD. Eleven different Pioneers recorded a reception in the game.
Pullum passed for 190 yards going 15-of-24 with two touchdowns and an interception for the Hawks.
TU will open South Atlantic Conference play next Saturday when the Pioneers host Limestone College for a 6 p.m. contest at Pioneer Field. Shorter will face NCAA Division II national finalist West Florida next weekend in Pensacola in their Gulf South Conference lid-lifter.