NCAA: Rhodes defeats Berry in defensive battle

(Photo by Todd DeFeo)

ROME, Ga., Sept. 28, 2014 — Rhodes’ high-scoring offense failed to find its rhythm on Saturday, but the visiting Lynx managed to grind out a 12-0 victory over Berry.

Rhodes (4-0) averaged nearly 41 points in the first three games of the season. But Berry’s stout defense limited the Lynx — a team that averaged nearly 400 yards of offense per game before Saturday — to 207 yards of offense.

The Lynx posted their first points when Blake Box connected with Matt Baldwin on a three-yard touchdown pass to with 11:18 remaining in the second quarter to cap a five-play, 62-yard drive.

With 1:44 remaining in the first half, Tucker Nichols tacked on a 29-yard field goal to give the Lynx a 10-0 lead at halftime. Rhodes scored their final points of the game nearly seven minutes into the third quarter, when Terry Hopper stuffed Jalen Tuggle in Berry’s end zone to pick up a safety.

Roc Sherrell led the ground attack for the Lynx, picking up 72 yards on 21 carries. Box completed 11 of 22 passes for 76 yards.

Rhodes limited Berry’s offense to just 94 yards, and the Vikings didn’t do themselves any favors with a pair of missed field goals. Tuggle rushed for 40 yards on 15 carries, and Dale Jackson faced constant pressure from Rhodes’ defense, completing just seven of 22 pass attempts for 65 yards.

“They’re the defending conference champs. They were 3-0 coming in, they’re 4-0 now and they’re that way for a reason,” Berry Coach Tony Kunczewski said in a post-game interview. “They didn’t really have a lot of weaknesses.”

Berry (0-3) is still looking for the program’s first win against a varsity program.

“If you give up 12 points, you expect to win,” Kunczewski said. “So, defensively, we’re making leaps and bounds. Our defensive line has grown up tremendously over the last year — not just with the guys that are returning, but with the new guys coming in. That’s the biggest difference for us. You try to find a silver lining in this, and we’re able to stop the run.”

Rhodes travels to Chicago next week to take on the University of Chicago (3-0) in the Blues Bowl. Berry hosts Washington University of St. Louis (1-3) during the school’s 100th Mountain Day.

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