Wingate, NC – North Greenville scored five touchdowns off six Wingate turnovers, and senior quarterback Willy Korn went 20-27 for 303 yards, added 81 yards on the ground and another score as the Crusaders (8-2) won their sixth straight game with 570 yards of total offense to beat the Bulldogs 54-7 to spoil homecoming Belk Stadium.
The victory over Wingate (5-5) was the worst loss for the Bulldogs since they were beaten by Carson-Newman by an identical score in 2001. NGU is now 7-1 against South Atlantic Conference teams this year, giving them the mythical SAC Alliance Title (NGU is not a member of the SAC, but will finish in no worse than a tie with the SAC teams they played this season).
The Crusaders forced five turnovers in the first half and scored three touchdowns in under two minutes and two under four minutes in lightning quick fashion. Besides Korn’s dominating performance, Sean Wright caught two touchdown passes, Harold Small added another, and Marcus Wilson and Idris Anderson added the other two on the ground.
Jonathon Sharpe, Braelen Meredith, Nolan Grage and Jamarius Robinson led the Crusaders with six tackles. NGU recovered four fumbles and intercepted two passes, one by Isaiah Johnson and the other Raheem Hughes.
Prior to this season, NGU had never beaten the Bulldogs, but did so in convincing fashion. Heading to their final home game next week, North Greenville stands at #5 in the NCAA Division II South Region, and stands a good chance at receiving the program’s first ever post-season berth.
North Greenville kicked off to start the game, but Isaiah Johnson intercepts Cody Haffly’s pass. On the very next play, Korn hit Daniel Adderly from 40 yards to get the Crusaders on the scoreboard quickly. Justin Gravely’s missed the extra point.
Wingate drove to the NU 18 yard line and on 4th down, Jamarius Robinson breaks up the pass and NGU turned away another Bulldog scoring threat. After a NGU punt, Wingate mustered its only scoring drive of the game. The Bulldogs went 87 yards in nine plays when Nestor Antigua caught an eight yard pass from Haffly. Matthew Sierk’s kick made it 7-6 Wingate.
From that point on, it was all North Greenville. The Crusaders 48 unanswered points in the game. After Jamarius Robinson recovered a Wingate fumble, Korn pitched to Anderson and he raced for a 43 yard touchdown. The drive took only 59 seconds. Gravely’s kick made it 13-7.
On the kickoff, Parker Langford dropped a pooch kick into a stiff wind and ball hung up and was fumbled. A.J. Jones recovered the third Wingate fumble. Korn engineered yet another masterful drive and stayed on the ground from eight yards out with 7:30 left in the second quarter. Gravely’s kick made it 20-7 with 3:47 left.
Wingate put it on the ground yet again when Jamarius Robinson punched the ball out of Chris Bowden’s hands and it was recovered by Nick Rosamonda at the 32 yard line. After big gains by Marcus Wilson, Korn carried to the eight yard line with 4:22 left. Wright then ran his favorite fade route to the corner of the right end zone, and Korn hit him for a 10 yard touchdown. Gravely’s kick made it 27-7 with 3:56 left.
After a Wingate punt, Korn hit Sean Wright near the sideline, but he slipped a tackle and raced for a 46 yards. Korn then hit Harold Small on the next play and he went to the eight yard for a first and goal with 56 seconds left. With 35 seconds left, Marcus Wilson carried in from three yards out for yet another touchdown. Gravely’s kick made it 34-7 at the half.
After Troy Jones returned the opening kick of the second half to Wingate 45 yard line, Korn got great protection, and hit Harold Small with a 45 yard touchdown pass. North Greenville led 41-7 early in the third quarter.
North Greenville turned away yet another Wingate scoring drive with a fourth down stand. NGU took over at the 18 yard line and held onto the ball with a 14 play, 82 yard drive that consumed 7:06 off the clock. Korn hit Sean Wright with his second touchdown pass, as he out jumped the Bulldog defender for the ball with 13:53 left in the game. Gravely’s kick missed wide left, and NGU lead 47-7.
Tyran Melvin punched the ball out, and NGU’s Paul Scott recovered the ball. Korn then hit Freddie Martino with as big 39 yard catch. NGU had first and goal at the ten yard line with 9:05 left. Kyle Peck scored on the next play for a touchdown. After Justin Gravely’s extra point, NGU took a insurmountable 54-7 lead.
Raheem Hughes ended Wingate’s final scoring opportunity with an interception in the end zone.
“You can now spell ‘respect,’ NGU,” Crusader head coach Jamey Chadwell said after what was perhaps the young program’s four-year history biggest victory. “Our ultimate goal is still the NCAA Division II playoffs, and with this win, we’re still on track for that. You have to remember, prior to this season, we had never beaten a South Atlantic Conference team. Now, we’ve beaten seven of the eight schools.”
“Willy Korn had a big time performance,” he added. “He ran the ball when he needed to and passed almost perfectly. He’d like to have that one interception back, because he under threw the ball, but other than that, he was outstanding. We were able to use about every offensive weapon we have today and that was a very significant victory for our football program.”
North Greenville will conclude its 2011 regular season next Saturday when it hosts the College of Notre Dame of Ohio at Younts Stadium at 1:00 p.m. The Crusaders will then await their post-season fate, and the only thing that will be decided is how many ‘C’s’ are in their opponent.