BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Senior Will Davis booted a 23-yard field goal in overtime, following a St. Vincent fumble to complete a 14-point comeback to give Bridgewater a 20-17 victory over the visiting Bearcats in the season opener.
St. Vincent struck first when kicker Morgan Porter punched a 38-yard field goal through the uprights on the first drive of the game to give the Bearcats a 3-0 lead.
From the onset, Bridgewater's offense was lethargic gaining a mere 30 yards in the first 15 minutes but the defense held true, to keep the game at a 3-0 tally through the opening stanza.
In the middle of the second quarter, a Mike Kale one-yard carry put the Bearcats up 10-0 stunning the Bridgewater faithful as former offensive coordinator Bob Colbert was looking to return to BC and play spoiler for the Eagles on 2000's Week.
On the offensive end, the Eagles couldn't find their rhythm as they only got into Bearcats territory on one drive in the first half, but only trailed by a 10-0 score heading to the intermission.
Out of the halftime break, both teams traded possessions with the two defenses giving little ground before the Eagles finally got on the scoreboard off of a 29-yard Davis field goal to cut the St. Vincent lead to 10-3. The field goal was set up by a muffed punt from the Bearcats, which was recovered by senior Chris Wholey inside the SVC redzone.
Following the Eagles first score of the game the Bearcats grinded things out using a 17-play, eight minute-24 second drive, capped off by an Aaron Smetanka one-yard keeper to extend the lead back to two scores at a 17-3 tally with less than 11 minutes remaining.
Bridgewater responded during the ensuing drive as the offense finally got rolling when a Darrin McKenzie eight-yard run cut the Bearcats lead back to seven at a 17-10 tally.
A gassed Bridgewater defense allowed the Bearcats into Eagles territory on the ensuing drive before a three-yard completion brought up fourth and inches at the BC 27.
Huey Ehredt took the carry on fourth down and was stopped up by senior Murphy Luatua to get the defense off the field and give the Eagles offense a shot at overtime with under five minutes remaining.
On the play, Gonzalez placed a perfectly thrown pass over the shoulder of Burns in the endzone to complete the comeback, tying the game at 17 each.
St. Vincent had a final shot at the Eagles with three minutes left and a pair of timeouts, but were able to move just across midfield before the horn sounded, pushing the game to overtime.
The Bearcats won the toss and elected to take the ball on the Bridgewater 25 to open the first overtime session.
Kale took the first carry from scrimmage in the extra set before senior Dominic Jeter stormed in to force a fumble which was recovered by Wholey to give the Eagles a crack at the victory.
Following a Gonzalez incompletion on first down, running back Darrin McKenzie barreled for nine yards and two yards on back-to-back carries to give the Eagles a fresh set of downs to work with from the Bearcats 14.
After a Bridgewater timeout, McKenzie barreled for another six yards before Green-Ellis centered the ball on a two-yard carry to set up the game-winning field goal on third down.
With the game on the line, Davis delivered a 23-yard boot to give the Eagles a hard-fought 20-17 victory over the visiting Bearcats.
St. Vincent outperformed the Eagles in nearly every statistical category, except for turnovers which proved to be the deciding factor.
The Bearcats outrushed Bridgewater by a 177-to-132 margin, led by Kale's game-high 119 yards on 30 carries. McKenzie led the Eagles rushing attack with 63 yards on 19 runs.
Through the air Smetanka was solid completing 18-of-28 passes for 190 yards. For the Eagles, Gonzalez led the way, throwing for a team-high 115 yards and the game-tying score on 5-of-17 passing. Hutchinson chipped in 30 yards on 3-of-10 passing and an interception.
Wide receiver Ricky Douglas led the Bearcats on the receiving end with four grabs for 61 yards, while Delbridge paced the Eagles receivers with two catches for 49 yards.
On the defensive end, Bearcats linebacker Anthony Johnson led the way with a game-high 12 tackles including a half-sack and a half-tackle for a loss. Bridgewater was led defensively by a 10-tackle effort from senior safety Jeff Mehlhaff, and Wholey's nine tackle afternoon. The Bridgewater defense accounted for three sacks on the day.
St. Vincent owned the time of possession battle by a 33:13-to-26:47 margin.
The two teams were relatively even in penalties, with the Bearcats committing five penalties for 33 yards, compared to the Eagles four penalties for 37 yards.
With the victory, the Eagles move to 37-10 in the month of September under head coach Michael Clark and to 10-2 in season openers in the 21st century. The victory also marks the sixth straight season opening win for the Eagles, eclipsing the record of five set with last year's victory in Latrobe.
The game also marked 2000's Week at Bridgewater as the campus welcomed back the players from the last 10 years, including the players from the Eagles' run to the Stagg Bowl in 2001 and the program's five-straight ODAC championships.
Bridgewater is back in action on Saturday, September 10 when it travels to Shenandoah for the road opener.