2023 Lenoir-Rhyne vs Limestone

SAC Week 6 Preview: League Leaders Lenoir-Rhyne, Limestone Square Off

SAC Week 6 Preview: League Leaders Lenoir-Rhyne, Limestone Square Off

The last two teams undefeated in the South Atlantic Conference, Lenoir-Rhyne and Limestone, face off in a marquee matchup.

Oct 5, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
SAC Week 6 Preview: League Leaders Lenoir-Rhyne, Limestone Square Off

With its 27-23 defeat of previously unbeaten Mars Hill, Limestone moved to 3-0 in South Atlantic Conference play. Lenoir-Rhyne, meanwhile, stayed perfect for the campaign with a 56-3 trouncing of UVA Wise. 

The Saints and Bears head into Week 6 with the only remaining unblemished conference marks, but only one gets to maintain that status into Week 7. 

Limestone hosts Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday in the marquee matchup of the SAC slate.  

Lenoir-Rhyne comes to Gaffney boasting one of the nation's most dominant defenses. Only Benedict is allowing fewer than the Bears' 5.4-point per game yield, and only Virginia Union is giving up less than L-R's 35.2-yard per game rushing allowance. 

UVA Wise managed just 27 rushing yards against Lenoir-Rhyne last week, thanks in part to eight tackles for loss. Devin Hibbitt led the way with two and is now up to five on the season, third behind Jon Ross Maye's 9.5 and Andre Jefferson's eight. 

Jefferson also leads L-R with three sacks. 

The trio are key contributors, but the Bears stifling play is an all-around effort. Ten players have at least 10 tackles, 12 have at least two tackles for loss and six have intercepted a pass. 


Limestone's prolific offense has come along in recent weeks since the beginning of SAC play, and was the first to solve another stingy defense with Mars Hill last week. Saints quarterback Dustin Noller was excellent against the Panthers, going 19-of-27 for 257 yards with four touchdowns — just two touchdowns fewer than the Mars Hill defense allowed in its first three games combined. 

Seven Limestone pass-catchers have hauled in at least 107 yards on the season, including three — receivers Jelani Baker and Drew Dixon, and running back Tre Stewart — with at least 223 yards. The trio of Baker, Dixon and Stewart are also among a quartet of Saints with multiple scoring receptions. 

Stewart, meanwhile, is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and almost 88 a game. 

Limestone's balance has it scoring more than 36 points per game against SAC opponents, while the Saints defense has limited SAC teams to 18 a contest. 

Defensive end Damon Early, who had a monster game with three sacks and four tackles for loss against West Alabama, came through for 1.5 sacks last week vs. Mars Hill.  His teammate on the Saints line, Collin Vaughn, has gotten into the backfield for 3.5 tackles for loss in SAC games. 


Limestone will have to find ways to slow a potent Lenoir-Rhyne running game, the Bears pitch-perfect complement to their defensive prowess. Running back Dwayne McGee is averaging 131.5 yards per game and chews up almost eight per carry. 

Zayvion Turner-Knox, L-R's change-of-pace back, averages 9.2 yards a touch. 

As important for the host Saints: Getting off to a fast start. Lenoir-Rhyne is inundating opponents in the opening quarters to the tune of a staggering 164-14 advantage. 

The first 15-to-30 minutes on Saturday could shape the latter-half of the SAC Piedmont division race as its last two remaining undefeated teams clash. 

Another Piedmont division matchup set for Week 6 pits 2-1 teams Newberry and Barton head-to-head. 

Barton survived a 17-14 defensive struggle last week over Tusculum, building an early lead behind rushing touchdowns from Jordan Terrell and Jaquan Lynch. Kicker Bear Huggins booted the game-winner just before time expired after Tusculum rallied to force a 14-all tie. 

Barton's Terrell leads the SAC at 155.2 rushing yards per game, and went for 53 on his touchdown carry a week ago. 

Newberry, meanwhile, aims to bounce back from its first conference setback in a 34-21 decision vs. Carson-Newman. The Wolves gave up three unanswered touchdowns in the second half and couldn't recover. 

Newberry limited Carson-Newman to 105 rushing yards and gave up only 13 first downs for the game, and dominated time of possession at 34:44 to 25:16. The Wolves need to finish drives this week. 

In the Mountain division, Tusculum will try to rebound from its heartbreaking loss to Barton when it goes on the road to face Carson-Newman. 

Carson-Newman's offense found a spark last week behind quarterback Jaylen Myers. Myers completed 15 of his 20 pass attempts for 191 yards and threw a pair of touchdowns without an interception. 

The effective passing game worked well in concert with a rushing attack that was at its most productive all season. Freshman running back Cam Ferguson averaged 10.8 yards per carry for 86, his best performance as an Eagle. 

Tusculum comes in looking to ignite its own offense, which is averaging only 19.2 points per game. 

The Pioneers defense can have Tusculum in any game, as last week's second-half effort against Barton showed. Keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone after intermission gave the offense an opportunity to find its footing and mount a pair of touchdown drives. 

Ty'Korian Brown has three interceptions and three pass break-ups for the Pioneers, while Wesley Scott, Gavin Rowell and Dajavon White have combined for 10 tackles. Tusculum can set the tone defensively, but the Pioneers must start faster out of the gate when they have the ball to rebound after last week's loss.