Saturday, November 19, 2022

Wingate Wins Big on the Road, Advances to Second Round of D2 Playoffs

RICHMOND, VA – The 22nd-ranked Wingate University Bulldogs took advantage of a strong defensive effort, which included 14 points scored by the defense alone, to roll to a 32-7 win at #14 Virginia Union in the first round of the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs. The Bulldogs improve to 10-2 overall and advance to next week's second round, while the Panthers end their season at 9-2.

Virginia Union converted one third down on their opening possession before stalling and punting away. Wingate took over at its own 28 and put together an 11-play scoring drive. Crocker hit Desor for 29 yards to get it to the Virginia Union 10. Crocker hit Dillon for an eight-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs the lead. The teams traded punts in their ensuing drives with Wingate leading 7-0.

Wingate DT Sirod Cook chases the VUU QB.
Photo Credit: Dominique Maneice

Wingate pushed the ball into Panther territory to open the second quarter after forcing a Virginia Union punt but stalled themselves. Evans' punt was downed at Virginia Union's 11-yard line. On the first play of their drive, Thomas picked off Virginia Union's Jahkari Grant and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-0. Virginia Union converted a third and 17 from its own three-yard line in the next drive but was once again forced to punt it away. The Bulldogs could not get anything going, as they were forced to punt it away again. Wingate scored its second defensive touchdown of the quarter, as Edwards picked it off and took it to the house for a 38-yard pick-six, as Wingate took a commanding 20-0 lead at the 4:23 mark. A penalty allowed Virginia Union to get into Wingate territory for the first time, but the Bulldogs picked up a stop on fourth down to keep the shutout alive. The Bulldogs were content to run out the clock and take a 20-0 lead into the halftime locker room.

Clark picked up 25 yards on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, but the drive stalled from there. Evans' punt was downed at the one-yard line, setting up a long field for the Panthers. Gilmore stuffed Virginia Union's running back in the end zone, forcing the safety and putting the Bulldogs up 22-0. The free kick was returned into Virginia Union territory, but Wingate was forced to punt, which was downed inside the 20 yet again. Wingate's defense forced its third turnover of the game on the ensuing drive when Fleming forced a Byers fumble, which Thomas recovered. Crocker connected with Desor for a 49-yard touchdown on third and 11, as Wingate took a commanding 29-0 lead with just over seven minutes left in the quarter. Grant completed a 48-yard touchdown to John Jiles on Virginia Union's first play on their next drive, cutting the deficit to 29-7. Wingate converted a pair of first downs, but the drive stalled. Evans pinned the Panthers to their own 10-yard line after another positive punt. The Panthers couldn't get anything going yet again, and their punt did not make it past midfield.

In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs drove it down to the Virginia Union two-yard line, but couldn't punch it into the end zone, instead settling for a 19-yard Evans field goal to go up 32-7. Virginia Union went on a nine-play drive, but could not convert a pass play on fourth and seven fell incomplete. The Panther defense held strong, but Evans once again pinned Virginia Union deep in its own end with 2:20 left to go. Virginia Union could not make it down the field in their final possession.

Up Next

The Bulldogs will travel to Columbia, SC next Saturday for a matchup with #7 Benedict College in second-round NCAA playoff action. Wingate will look to punch its ticket to the national quarterfinals for the first time in program history with a win over the Tigers.


Story courtesy of Wingate Athletics