HICKORY, N.C. -- Lenoir-Rhyne moved into the national quarterfinals after coming from behind to defeat Carson-Newman 27-20 on Saturday in the second round of the Division II playoffs at Moretz Stadium.
L-R quarterback Josh Justice came off the bench in the second half to rush and pass for a touchdown as the Bears (11-1) rallied from a 20-7 deficit to beat the Eagles (10-3) for the second time this year.
Lenoir-Rhyne will play host to North Alabama (10-2) in the national quarterfinals next Saturday.
No. 16 North Alabama (10-2) defeated eighth-ranked UNC-Pembroke (9-2) 37-13.
Carson-Newman's quarterback, De'Andre Thomas, also rushed and passed for a score as the Eagles built a 20-7 lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to James Phillips with 5:29 left before intermission.
Lenoir-Rhyne began its rally on a 46-yard field goal by Zach Neumann on the last play of the first half.
L-R tied the score at 20 with another 46-yard field goal by Neumman and a 4-yard touchdown run by Justice in the third quarter before winning it in the final stanza.
In the fourth quarter, Justice found wide receiver Greyson Wells in the back of the end zone from 10 yards out with 4:49 left which proved to be the game-winning score. The touchdown ended an 11-play, 92-yard drive.
Lenoir-Rhyne, the top-ranked team in Division II in rushing at 376.9 yards per game, finished with 316 on the ground including 194 after halftime. L-R quarterback Teverrius Jones led the way with 102 yards rushing, including a 68-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Thomas finished with 225 total yards -- 81 on the ground and 144 through the air -- but Carson-Newman was held to just 105 yards in the second half after running up 297 yards before intermission.
On defense, free safety Michael Green totaled 10 tackles for the Bears while Jaycob Coleman and Jarod Henderson added 10 takedowns each for the Eagles.
Lenoir-Rhyne's 11-1 record matched its best mark since an 11-1 season in 1962 when the Bears advanced to the NAIA national championship game.