Goal-line stand on fourth down in fourth quarter keys victory
WINGATE – So much for preseason predictions.
Lenoir-Rhyne University — making a goal-line stand late and getting 239 yards passing from quarterback Grayson Willingham – stunned Wingate 31-24 on Saturday night on the road.
In preseason voting by the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) head coaches, the Bears (3-1, 2-0) were picked to finish sixth and the Bulldogs (2-2, 0-2) were tabbed to finish in second place.
LRU jumped out front of Wingate 31-7 before the Bulldogs rallied with three scores over a seven-minute span to close within 31-24.
The Bears’ defense then held Wingate without a point for the final 16 minutes, 47 seconds.
Willingham went 12-of-22 and threw for two TDs while not being intercepted for the second straight game. He continues to lead the SAC in efficiency (174.0 rating) and has a SAC-high 11 scoring throws.
Jaquay Mitchell rushed eight times for 58 yards for the Bears and he also had three catches for 87 yards and a TD.
On defense, Eric Jackson had two interception and returned them for 61 yards while Amari Houston provided two sacks and linebacker Clayton Horn had 13 tackles and 1 ½ sacks.
The Bears stopped Wingate on fourth-and-inches at the LRU 1 in the fourth quarter, halting quarterback Shaw Crocker on a sneak.
Wingate came 6-0 in night games at Irwin Belk Stadium, but LRU gained its first win at Wingate since 2014 and has a three-game win streak under new head coach Drew Cronic.
LRU plays a home conference game on Saturday at 6 p.m. when Tusculum visits Moretz Stadium.