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Shippy runs for school record in 37-10 win over Limestone in SAC opener

Jordon Shippy rushed for a school-record 258 yards along with 3 TDs in Tusculum's 37-10 win over Limestone (photo by Chuck Williams)
Jordon Shippy rushed for a school-record 258 yards along with 3 TDs in Tusculum's 37-10 win over Limestone (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University senior Jordon Shippy rushed for a school record 258 yards to lead the Pioneers to a 37-10 home victory over Limestone College Friday night at Pioneer Field in the South Atlantic Conference opener for both teams.

Shippy accomplished the feat against his hometown team as the Gaffney, South Carolina native ran the football 35 times and scored three touchdowns.  He breaks the previous record of 250 rushing yards set by Isaac Robinson in 2015 against Brevard College.

Tusculum finished the evening with 390 rushing yards, the sixth-most in program history and the most during the university's NCAA Division II era (1998-present).

The Pioneers (2-1, 1-0 SAC) led wire-to-wire scoring the first 10 points of the contest and rattled off 27 consecutive points in the victory.

TU redshirt freshman Maurice Gomillion also surpassed the 100-yard mark as he posted 112 yards on 14 carries and touchdown, marking the first time in 18 years that two Tusculum players ran for over 100 yards in the same game.  The last time came Oct. 28, 2000 when Raymond Rains (128) and Aaron Claridy (112) accomplished the feat.

Tusculum out-gained the Saints (0-3, 0-1 SAC) in total offensive yardage by a 460-282 margin.  The TU defense came up with four interceptions on the night including two from junior Jay Boyd which ties a single-game record including the two picks he posted against the Saints last trip to Greeneville in 2016.  The two interceptions were the eighth and ninth of Boyd's career moving into third place in the TU record book.

The lone TD scored by the Saints came against the TU offense as DJ Witherspoon scored on a pick-six, returning an interception 22 yards for the touchdown at the 11:50 mark of the second quarter to make it a 10-7 game.

Tusculum's defensive unit finished the night with three sacks, four turnovers and came up with a goal line stand late in the third quarter as Limestone had it first and goal from the five yard line and turned the Saints away from the one-yard line on third and fourth down.

For Limestone, Joshua Simmons led all players with his 19 tackles, including 11 solo stops and one tackle for loss while teammate Dalton Yates finished with eight tackles and a sack.

The Tusculum trip of Dee Alford, Ivan Hogans and Randy Hooks finished with seven tackles each.  Hogans also came up with his first career interception, while Nelson Louis tallied five tackles with three hits for loss and two sacks.

Limestone took the opening kickoff and marched into Tusculum territory before Boyd came up with his first interception and returned it 23 yards to the TU 44.

The Pioneers went 56 yards on six plays with five of those plays and 44 of those yards came on the ground thanks to Shippy including his five-yard TD run at the 9:01 mark of the opening quarter.  Joe Defatta's extra point made it 7-0.

Later in the quarter, Tusculum took over in great field position at the LC 42.  The Pioneers got inside the 10-yard line but the drive stalled there and settled for a 26-yard field goal from Defatta and a 10-0 lead with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.

Tusculum's Malik Goodman ended the ensuing drive for Limestone as he intercepted quarterback Alec Morton to stop the Saints at the TU 14.

But Limestone seized the momentum back just three plays later as Witherspoon intercepted TU quarterback Tommy Pistone and sprinted up the sideline for the 22-yard touchdown.  Griffin Martin's kick made it 10-7 with 11:50 left before halftime.

Tusculum looked to have grabbed the momentum again as Boyd returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards from the end zone and six consecutive running plays including five carries and 50 yards from Shippy moved the ball to the LC 7.  After a Limestone timeout and an incomplete pass on third down and three yards to go, Defatta came on to attempt a 24-yard field goal, but his kick was blocked by Mannie Ogletree to keep it a three-point game with 8:04 remaining.

Starting from their six-yard line, the Saints moved the ball 13 yards before having to punt, but the kick was shanked out of bounds at the LC 37 setting up the Pioneers in excellent field position.

It only took two plays to find pay-dirt as Gomillion ran for 20 yards on the first carry and 17 on the second for his first collegiate touchdown.

The Saints went three-and-out again as Tusculum started its next possession at the TU 24.  Shippy got TU to midfield with a 27-yard gain and Gomillion followed with a 38-yard run to the LC 12.  Shippy followed with a nine-yard carry and capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown as the Pioneers extended their lead to 27-7 with 2:07 left in the half.

Limestone would punt again as Cook got off a 53-yard kick, but Brian Burnett returned it 33 yards to the TU 44 with 46 seconds remaining.  The Pioneers got to the LC 31 and would attempt a 48-yard field goal but Defatta's kick sailed wide left as TU carried the 24-7 lead into the locker room.

The two teams would turn the ball over on their initial possessions of the second half, both on interceptions. The last pick coming from Boyd at the LC 25.  Shippy churned out 25 yards on four carries including a seven-yard TD as the Pioneers led 31-7.  Hogans recorded his first career interception on the first play of the Limestone drive at the LC 16.  TU would settle for a 31-yard Defatta field goal as the Pioneers led 34-7 with 6:32 left in the third frame.

The Saints orchestrated their best drive of the evening going 74 yards in 12 plays, but on fourth and goal from the one, Patton was stopped short of the goal-line by Alford and Hogans as TU took over on downs.

Tusculum put the game away as the Pioneers went 89 yards on 12 plays as Defatta connected on his third field goal of the game, this one from 27 yards and a 37-7 lead with 13:07 left in the game.  Limestone added a 28-yard Martin field goal to cap the scoring for the evening.

Morton finished game with 122 passing yards going 13-of-35 with four interceptions.  Pistone went 6-of-17 for 60 yards and two interceptions in his second straight start under center.

Tusculum punter Andrew Cantrell finished the game averaging 46 yards on his two punts, while Cook posted a 43.3 yard average on his six punt attempts.

Shippy's 35 rushing attempts are the third-most in school history while his 279 all-purpose yards are tied for fourth in the TU record book.

Defatta, the reigning SAC Special Teams Player of the Week, surpassed his 11 kicking points at Shorter University six days ago with Friday's 13-point effort which are fourth-most by a Pioneer kicker.

Tusculum returns to action next Saturday when they host UNC Pembroke in a non-conference game at Pioneer Field beginning at 4 p.m.

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