Sunday, October 15, 2023

Lenoir-Rhyne Stays Unbeaten, Takes Down Barton on Homecoming


HICKORY – In a South Atlantic Conference showdown on a perfect Homecoming afternoon, the No. 12/13 Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team delivered a dominating performance, thrashing Barton by a resounding 44-point margin at Moretz Stadium. The Bears, who remain unbeaten with a 7-0 record, showcased their offensive prowess and unyielding defense to secure the emphatic victory. 

The Barton Bulldogs initially struck first, putting three points on the board with a field goal just 7:36 into the first quarter. However, Lenoir-Rhyne quickly found their rhythm, outscoring the visitors 40-0 for the remainder of the game. The Bears' defense proved relentless, limiting Barton to a mere eight first downs and 148 total yards of offense throughout the contest. In contrast, Lenoir-Rhyne's offense amassed a remarkable 515 yards, overwhelming their opponents.

Reigning SAC Offensive Player of the Week, Jaquan Lynch, who had been on fire, was stifled by the Bears' tenacious defense. Lynch was held to a mere 66 yards passing on 6-of-14 completions, accompanied by an interception, and just eight yards rushing on eight attempts.

The Bears started the game with a flourish, as Deondre Lester hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jalen Ferguson. Although Barton responded with a field goal, the Bears dominated the first half, scoring 27 unanswered points. Dwayne McGee and Lester added to the lead with touchdowns, and a trick play saw Songa Yates connect with DeAree Rogers for another score. The Bears headed into halftime with a commanding 34-3 lead.

The second half saw Lenoir-Rhyne continuing their relentless performance, scoring two more field goals and a quarterback sneak by Sean White, bringing the final score to 47-3. Jalen Ferguson finished the game with an impressive 241 yards passing and three touchdowns, while Dwayne McGee rushed for 92 yards. DeAree Rogers played a pivotal role, with 11 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive end, Jon Ross Maye and Malik Taylor each recorded six tackles, and the Lenoir-Rhyne defense tallied three sacks, with Taylor also forcing a fumble.

Beyond the box score, the game marked the one-year anniversary of a significant injury for DB T.J. Blanding, who had an interception, his second of the year. The crowd was announced as a sellout, showcasing the immense support for the Bears. Lenoir-Rhyne's win extended their winning streak to nine games, dating back to the end of the 2022 season, making it the second-longest current winning streak in Division II. The Bears continue to impress, holding a 54-12 record in games where they are nationally ranked.

The Bears' exceptional passing game performance was a highlight, with a 24-for-30 completion rate, marking the second-highest in a single game during the NCAA Era. DeAree Rogers' 11 receptions ranked as the third-most in a game during the NCAA Era, and his 150 receiving yards were the seventh-highest during that period. The Bulldogs managed just 44 total plays, making it the fifth fewest allowed in the NCAA Era. Moreover, Lenoir-Rhyne's home defense remains stout, conceding just one touchdown all season, which occurred in the home opener against St. Augustine's.

Looking ahead, Lenoir-Rhyne is set to take on Newberry in Newberry, South Carolina, next Saturday at 4 p.m. as they aim to maintain their undefeated streak. On the other hand, Barton looks to bounce back from the loss when they host Wingate for Homecoming at Truist Stadium next Saturday at 2:00 p.m.