Greensboro College sign 2018

GREENSBORO — A pair of freshman football players at Greensboro College helped sheriff's deputies make a big tackle earlier this month.

The college said that starting quarterback Nate Coffey and defensive lineman Josh Jones helped law enforcement catch a fugitive outside a high school football game in western North Carolina.

According to a report in The Sylva Herald newspaper, Coffey, Jones and three other friends had gone to a Smoky Mountain High School game Sept. 14. As they got in their car to leave the stadium at halftime, a man approached the group to ask for a ride.

Coffey, according to the newspaper, was in the driver's seat when he noticed that the man was holding a gun behind his back. One member of the group wrapped up the man in a bear hug. A second group member disarmed the fugitive. The man ran off, but deputies who had been tailing the fugitive at the game caught up with him at a nearby gas station.

“My heart dropped a little when I saw the gun, but I wasn’t that scared,” Coffey, who graduated from Smoky Mountain High School in June, told the Sylva newspaper. “You can’t be scared in those moments. You have to act fast."

A 27-year-old Cherokee man, identified as Tanner Moren Eagle Larch, was charged with several felonies, including attempted robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon. The Sylva paper reported that Larch had been convicted in 2013 on robbery charges and was wanted on unrelated and undisclosed federal charges. He remains in the Jackson County jail on $30,000 bail.

Sylva, located in Jackson County, sits about 50 miles west of Asheville.

It has been an eventful first season for both Pride football players.

Coffey was named the USA South Athletic Conference's Offensive Rookie of the Week after he threw three touchdown passes in a 44-28 win over Gallaudet on Sept. 8.

In that same game, Jones — a Fayetteville native who graduated from Cape Fear High School — had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and was named the conference's Defensive Rookie of the Week.

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Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.​

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