Fresh off a tough 35-31 loss to Wingate University last Saturday, the NGU Crusaders (0-2) have to bounce back quickly as they will take on one of the NCAA II’s toughest teams, #21 (AFCA) ranked Newberry College Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.
Newberry (formerly the Indians) dropped a 14-9 decision at home against #1 ranked Valdosta State (GA) Aug. 30 at Setzler Field in Newberry. NU will have had 12 days to prepare for NGU at kickoff Thursday. The game also will be Service Appreciation Night at NU as it’s the seventh anniversary of 9-11.
Last time out, NGU took a 31-28 lead late into the fourth quarter, but could not keep Wingate out of the end zone. The Bulldogs, who compete in the South Atlantic Conference along with Newberry, scored with 5:55 left to guide the Bulldogs (2-0) to the win in front of a near capacity NGU crowd of 4,123.
NGU senior running back Rashad Cummings, who rushed for 150 yards in the game, broke a tackle on a first down play and dashed for a school record 91 yard touchdown to put NGU up 31-28 with 14:35 left in the game. Following Cummings’ touchdown, Wingate punter Jake Hardy pinned the Crusaders on the five yard line with 12:31 left. They then held and forced NGU to punt. Wingate took over on its own 43 and drove down the field to score the winning TD.
NGU led 17-7 at halftime behind two Matt Moore touchdowns. He scored both of those inside the last four minutes of the half. Moore added yet another TD with 1:33 left in the third quarter and finished the game with 50 yards rushing. Senior wide receiver Brandon Dobbins also had a big game with 9 catches for 87 yards. Sophomore quarterback Richard Harb had another solid effort, going 20-34 for 161 yards. The Crusaders had an effective, balanced offense against Wingate, mixing the mixed the rush and pass.
“The difference in the game was our kicking game,” NGU Head Coach Mike Taylor said. “We gave them a short field all night and sooner or later, they’re going to beat you with it. “One thing we are going to emphasize pretty heavily this week is our kicking game. If we had done a decent job against Wingate, I really feel we could have won the game. No matter what we do on offense and defense, we’ve still got to be able to control the kicking game.”
“Playing a game on Thursday night is a bit of a concern because we lose a day and a half of practice,” Taylor noted. “We’ll have to cram everything in, but we’ll get it done. Our players really like it because they have one less day of practice. Our goal is just to be the best team we can on Thursday. We’ll concentrate heavily on tackling and our gap responsibilities on defense.
Taylor, a 1976 alumnus and former head coach at Newberry said about Thursday’s opponent, “they are a very good football team. They played a great defensive game against the defending national champions in Valdosta State and they were better on offense than Valdosta. It’ll be a great challenge for our guys.” The next home game for NGU will be Saturday, Sept. 20 when the Crusaders host Kentucky Wesleyan at 7:00 p.m. at Younts Stadium.
NGU fans can follow all the action on 95.5 FM (WNGR “the Vibe” on the NGU campus) with Dr. Wilson Nelson calling the action.
This week's game notes.