Saturday, September 16, 2023

Late Touchdown Propels Tusculum University Pioneers to Victory Over Wingate University in Thrilling SAC Clash

WINGATE — In a nail-biting South Atlantic Conference (SAC) football showdown under the lights at Irwin Belk Stadium on Saturday night, the Tusculum University Pioneers secured a dramatic 23-21 victory over Wingate University, thanks to a 46-yard touchdown pass with just three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. This hard-fought win propels the Pioneers to a 1-2 overall record and a promising 1-0 start in the SAC, while the Bulldogs from Wingate fall to 1-2 overall, with a 0-1 conference record.

The opening quarter saw Tusculum embarking on an impressive 13-play, 75-yard drive, culminating in Matthew Palazzo punching in a three-yard touchdown run, granting the Pioneers a 7-0 lead. Tusculum continued to build on their lead early in the second quarter when Palazzo delivered another two-yard touchdown run, following a 53-yard drive. However, Wingate responded with a 12-play, 75-yard drive of their own. Noah Bell orchestrated the offense, connecting with various receivers, and ultimately running in a five-yard touchdown, reducing the deficit to 14-7.

Photo Credit: Wingate Athletics
In a tied game at 14-14, Wingate made use of a four-play, 41-yard drive, with Bell showcasing his running ability and connecting with Trevor Grant for a 17-yard touchdown pass. A key moment occurred when Wingate's defense sacked Tusculum's quarterback in the end zone, taking the lead at 16-14. In a breathtaking fourth quarter, Wingate engineered a seven-play, 73-yard drive, featuring Bell's connections with Matt Flanders and Tremel Jones. Corey Siemer finished the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown, giving Wingate a 21-16 lead with 5:23 left on the clock. However, Tusculum staged a late-game comeback, covering 75 yards in just six plays, with Palazzo delivering a 46-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Burke, who made a spectacular catch amid defenders. The Pioneers seized a 23-21 advantage with only 2:59 remaining. Despite Wingate's valiant efforts to advance the ball downfield in the waning seconds, the game concluded with a Tusculum interception, securing the victory for the Pioneers.

Next Week

Wingate University will look to bounce back as they hit the road to face Emory & Henry next Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. This upcoming matchup promises to be another exciting chapter in the Bulldogs' season as they seek to regain momentum in the SAC.