BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Freshman kicker John Griggs punched in a 33-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to break a 14-14 deadlock and the Bridgewater College defense got a late hold as the Eagles moved to 3-0 on the season with a 17-14 victory over the visiting Shenandoah Hornets in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) opener.
The win marked head coach Michael Clark's 120th career victory.
Both teams locked up in a classic defensive slugfest but Shenandoah (1-3, 0-1 ODAC) used a bit of trickery to get into Bridgewater territory early in the first quarter. With a fourth and two at their own 40, Hornets punter Cory Gay faked the punt and threw a 32-yard strike to Sean Blackman to push Shenandoah into Bridgewater territory.
Bridgewater's (3-0) defense pushed the Hornets back and forced a turnover on downs to keep the game scoreless midway through the opening frame.
The Eagles used the momentum from the defensive hold to go on a nine play, 66 yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead late in the first. Bridgewater's scoring drive was capped off by a 27-yard strike from junior Willie Logan to sophomore wide receiver Tyler Moneymaker on a big fourth-down conversion.
In the second stanza, both teams traded field position in a quickly played quarter with the scoreboard remaining unchanged and Bridgewater holding on to a 7-0 halftime lead.
Bridgewater went backwards on its first drive of the second half before the Hornets responded with a game-tying, 10-play, 71 yard drive to knot the score at seven each. Quarterback Corey Taylor capped off a methodical Hornets drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to bring the game back to even at a 7-7 tally midway through the third.
Following the Shenandoah score, the Eagles responded immediately on a pass-heavy second drive of the third quarter. Logan went 3-for-6 on the drive, which was capped off by his second touchdown pass of the day, this time a 63-yard connection with Shawn Lee to put the Eagles up 14-7 with under six to play in the third.
The Bridgewater defense forced a quick Shenandoah three and out, but Logan was intercepted and had his pick returned to the BC three to close out the third quarter.
Shenandoah struck on its first play of the final frame on a one-yard Taylor keeper to bring the game to a 14-14 tie.
After a change of possession for both teams, freshman Antonn Briley returned a punt 23 yards to the Shenandoah 25 to give the Eagles excellent field position.
Senior Ryan Green-Ellis scampered 15 yards on the first play of the series before the drive stalled out at a Shenandoah 16, forcing a field goal attempt for the Eagles.
Griggs punched a kick through the uprights from 33 yards out to put Bridgewater up by a 17-14 tally with under nine minutes left in the game.
Shenandoah couldn't establish much offense on its ensuing drive, but managed to pin the Eagles inside their own 10 with 6:22 to play.
Logan worked the Eagles out of their own endzone with a 36-yard pass to John Lezcano on third down but was forced to punt the ball back to the Hornets with three minutes remaining.
The Eagles took the ball back but couldn't run out the rest of the game clock and gave Shenandoah one last shot, but the Hornets couldn't get across midfield as the Eagles earned a hard-fought 17-14 victory.
With the win, the Eagles move to 3-0 for the sixth time since 2000 and improve to 12-1 against the Hornets.
Logan finished the afternoon 17-of-31 for 261 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Bridgewater aerial assault. Lee paced the way with two catches for 71 yards, while Michael Colee hauled in a team-high four catches on the afternoon.
Sophomore Jacob Wright was limited to 50 yards on 16 carries.
Junior linebacker Andrew Palmer paced the Bridgewater defense with a game-high 12 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss. Francis added 10 tackles a half-sack for the Eagles while Darrick Gore was outstanding from the defensive backfield with eight tackles.
Taylor was 9-of-16 through the air for 125 yards with David Bell leading the way with a game-high five catches for 53 yards.
Hornets tailback Carl Joseph was held to just 29 yards on 19 runs. The Hornets were limited to just 55 yards on 42 carries as the Eagles held their third opponent of the season under 100 yards on the ground.
Jajuan Johnson paced the Hornets defense with 12 tackles, including a game-high nine solo stops.
Bridgewater was 7-of-20 on third down on the day and held the Hornets to a paltry 1-of-14 effort on the third down. The Eagles also controlled the clock, owning a 33:25-to-26:35 advantage.
The Eagles are back in action on Saturday on the road at Newport News Apprentice. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.