Wingate, NC – Wingate (2-0) capitalized on four North Greenville (0-2) turnovers, including an interception and a fumble that were returned for touchdowns as the Bulldogs pulled out a hard fought 33-14 win over the Crusaders at Irwin Belk Stadium.
The Division II contest between NGU and Wingate of the South Atlantic Conference was virtually even statistically, but turnovers dictated the outcome. Wingate had 297 total yards to 245 for the Crusaders.
The North Greenville defense limited the Bulldogs to a slim 7-0 lead late in the first half, but Wingate scored three times in the final eight minutes of the second quarter to take a lightning quick 26-7 halftime lead. NGU pinned the Bulldogs inside their own 15 yard line on their first two drives, but the Crusaders could not convert the field position into points.
NGU then drove 70 yards to the 13 and Richard Harb’s intended pass to Jon Paquette went over his head in the end zone, but a pass interference call gave NGU the ball at the two yard line. Montez Hatten then sprinted off left tackle into the end zone for the touchdown. Zach Sears’ extra point tied the score 7-7 with 7:56 left.
Wingate’s Vince Jordan scored on a 22 yard touchdown run on the Bulldogs’ next possession to put them up 14-7 with 5:12 left. After J.J. Fullwood returned the kickoff 55 yards, the Crusaders took over at the Bulldog 34 yard line. NGU’s Aaron Seigler fumbled at the 21 yard line and Tylan Merkerson scooped it up and ran for the touchdown.
North Greenville put itself in a deeper hole as the Bulldogs drove 71 yards in the final 1:10 and Perry Floyd scampered in from seven yards out with 20 seconds left. Wingate led 26-7 at halftime.
The Crusaders held the Bulldogs scoreless in the third quarter and rallied back behind Harb as he scored on a one yard run with 10:36, pulled NGU to within 26-14. North Greenville then tried to continue the rally as they drove down the field to try to pull to within five, but Harb threw his second interception that Greg Harmon of Wingate picked off and dash in from 53 yards out to give Wingate a 33-14 lead.
“We are knocking on the door of doing something good things with this program, but we need to keep striking the stone,” Coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Our offense didn’t get job done when we got close to them in the second quarter. It’s 14-7 and we get the ball inside 20 and we fumble. Then, we overcame some penalties, and had a chance to get close, and then they run an interception in for a touchdown. We just had way too many miscues.”
“Our young team is growing up quickly and we’re playing some very good football teams ,” Chadwell said. “We are not executing well enough to win games right now. Wingate is a very good team and they converted several third and longs that our defense normally doesn’t give up. Our ability to finish drives was a problem, but despite all the miscues, we’re at the 50 yard line and driving late in the game to try to win. We’re going to build on the positives and try to have a chance to win games.”