JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (SUBMITTED) -- Wingate University redshirt sophomore linebacker Jared Seate (Charlotte, N.C.) forced a fumble on Carson-Newman College’s first play in overtime, preserving a 38-35 South Atlantic Conference road victory for the Bulldogs at Burke-Tarr Stadium Saturday. Bulldog redshirt sophomore safety Robert Fletcher (Lancaster, S.C.) recovered the loose ball, giving Wingate its first-ever triumph over Carson-Newman in Jefferson City.
Bulldog redshirt senior placekicker RP Lopez (Lakeland, Fla.) won the game for the visitors, nailing a 41-yard field goal during Wingate’s overtime possession. The Bulldogs are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the SAC. The Carson-Newman Eagles are 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the SAC. Wingate hosts Tusculum College Saturday, Oct. 16 at 1:30 p.m. Carson-Newman visits Catawba College Saturday, Oct. 16 at 1:30 p.m.
Carson-Newman won the toss prior to the overtime frame; the Eagles elected to play defense first. The hosts held the visiting Bulldogs to one yard on three plays, setting the stage for Lopez and his huge field goal. The snap by redshirt senior center Andrew Garner (Sharpsburg, Ga.) was true and the hold by redshirt senior wide receiver Philip Thomas (St. Pauls, N.C.) was firm as Lopez remains perfect on the season. Lopez is two-for-two on field goals and 16-for-16 on extra points through five games.
Eagle senior quarterback Doug Belk (Valdosta, Ga.) gained 15 yards and a first down on Carson-Newman’s initial overtime play. Seate stripped the ball from the veteran signal-caller and Fletcher was in the right place at the right time as the Bulldogs defeated the Eagles for only the second time in 23 career attempts.
“Our players deserve this victory,” Wingate head coach Joe Reich says. “They keep fighting no matter the score. There is no panic in their demeanor. They have the mentality...‘let’s score some points’ and they make it happen.”
Carson-Newman had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but freshman placekicker Matthew Gossett (White House, Tenn.) had his 43-yard field goal blocked as time expired. Gossett also missed a 34-yarder in the third quarter.
Wingate trailed 28-14 at halftime, but the Bulldog defense did not allow the Eagles to score an offensive touchdown in the second half. Haffly connected with pre-season All-American Perry Floyd (Gastonia, N.C.) on back-to-back scoring plays to tie the contest at 28-28 early in the fourth quarter.
Floyd’s first TD was a 39-yarder, concluding a quick five-play, 84-yard drive with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The PAT by Lopez made the score 28-21. Carson-Newman was forced to punt on its next possession and Haffly and Floyd converted an 80-yard scoring strike on the next play from scrimmage. The Lopez extra point knotted the game at 28 with 12:30 to play in regulation.
The Bulldogs recovered an Eagles fumble on the next possession, but Wingate could not convert. Following another Carson-Newman punt, Haffly was intercepted by Eagle senior linebacker Anthony McAlister (Knoxville, Tenn.) at midfield. McAlister returned the errant pass 55 yards for a touchdown. Gossett’s PAT put the hosts up 35-28 with 3:18 to go.
Wingate responded three plays later. After a sack and an incompletion, Haffly and Thomas hooked up for a 66-yard touchdown pass play with 2:30 remaining in the contest. Lopez made the fifth of his extra points to send the contest to overtime.
Haffly completed 20-of-32 passes for 412 yards and five touchdowns. In addition to his three second-half TD strikes to Floyd (twice) and Thomas, Haffly threw two first half TD passes to redshirt senior wide receiver Delric Ellington (Charlotte, N.C.). Floyd led the receiving corps with six catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Ellington matched Floyd with six grabs for 96 yards and two visits to pay dirt. Thomas caught two passes for 78 yards and one score.
An All-American return specialist in 2009, Floyd had a huge day with 301 all-purpose yards. In addition to his 182 receiving yards, the Forestview High School product returned four kick-offs for 101 yards and one punt for 18 yards. Bulldog redshirt senior running back Nelson Woods (Shelby, N.C.) rushed 18 times for 87 yards. He also caught two passes Saturday.
For Carson-Newman, junior running back Nate Inman (Fitzgerald, Ga.) carried the ball 24 times for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Inman scored his touchdowns (22, 70 and 11 yards) in the first half. Belk ran 16 times for 66 yards and one score. He also completed three-of-seven passes for 93 yards. Carson-Newman (504 yards) and Wingate (488 yards) combined for 992 yards total offense Saturday.
Seate topped Wingate’s defensive charts with 10 tackles (four solo, six assists). He had the crucial forced fumble and a shared tackle for loss. Fletcher, redshirt senior linebacker Greg Harmon (Hope Mills, N.C.) and senior linebacker Ben Hinson (Monroe, N.C.) had nine tackles each for the victors. Bulldog redshirt junior defensive lineman Josh Yon (Kings Mountain, N.C.) joined Fletcher with a forced fumble Saturday.
McAlister led the Eagle defenders with eight tackles. Carson-Newman junior defensive end Zeke Andrews (Eastman, Ga.) had six tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks (negative nine yards) and two quarterback hurries. The Eagle offense gave its defense an opportunity to rest and recuperate, as Carson-Newman won the time of possession battle by almost 13 minutes (36:29 to 23:31).
The Bulldogs presented Reich with his first victory over Carson-Newman in 10 career tries. Wingate’s other triumph was Saturday, Oct. 7, 1995, when quarterback Brandon Gandy led his troops to a 25-24 home conquest over the C-N Eagles at Walter Bickett Stadium in Monroe.
The overtime victory was Wingate’s first SAC overtime triumph in five tries. The Bulldogs have won two overtime games in a row, as Wingate needed extra time to secure a 22-16 road decision over Davidson College on Sept. 9, 2006.
Courtesy: C-N Sports Information