Carson-Newman held off a furious rally in the second half by Lenoir-Rhyne to win by a 38-35 score Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Div. II football playoffs at Burke-Tarr Stadium in Jefferson City, Tenn.
Carson-Newman (9-2), ranked No. 22 in the nation, advances to the national quarterfinals to face Valdosta State (9-2) next Saturday in Valdosta, Ga.
After L-R had rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to take the lead, Eagles quarterback Brandon Haywood scored the game-winning touchdown on a 21-yard run with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter.
Haywood finished with 108 yards rushing and was one of three Carson-Newman players to rush for over 100 yards in the game, helping the Eagles won their seventh-straight contest.
Brandon Baker and Tyron Douglas added 145 and 130 yards on the ground, respectively, as Carson-Newman beat Lenoir-Rhyne for the second time this season.
L-R also had three players cross the century mark rushing, led by sophomore halfback Jarrod Spears and sophomore fullback Isaiah Whitaker.
Spears tallied 138 yards and Whitaker finished with 114 yards on the ground. Both players also scored a touchdown in the losing effort.
Lenoir-Rhyne fell behind by a 24-7 score at intermission before roaring back in the second half with touchdowns on its first four possessions after the break.
Bears sophomore fullback Austin Beaty, who added 102 yards rushing, gave the Bears a 35-31 lead with a seven-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter before Carson-Newman embarked on its game-winning drive.
Lenoir-Rhyne, which had its eight-game winning streak come to an end, finished with 468 yards of total offense, including 425 yards on the ground.
Carson-Newman, meanwhile, totaled 504 yards of offense, including 397 yards rushing.
The Eagles did not punt until their final possession of the game.
Bears sophomore linebacker Tanner Botts led all tacklers with 25, while senior linebackers Demetrius Green and Chris Carter added 13 takedowns each despite the loss.
In addition, L-R junior defensive back Myer Nolan picked off a pass and recovered a fumble for the Bears.
Lenoir-Rhyne, the 2012 South Atlantic Conference champions, made a trip to the postseason this fall for the first time in 50 years and won its most games in a single season since an 11-1 mark in 1962.