BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Stevenson made a few more plays in the highest-leverage situations, as the Bridgewater College football team fell 35-23 on Saturday evening at Jopson Field.
The Mustangs were 10-for-15 (67%) on third down and faked a fourth down field goal for a touchdown. The Eagles were actually an outstanding 13-for-17 (76%) on third down themselves, but a fumble on a promising drive that led to Stevenson points five plays later was the other major moment that ultimately represented the difference in a game that felt closer than the score indicated.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Eagles started on their own five and went 48 yards in two plays. However, after Trey Stephens cut inside for 20 yards on an end-around, Stevenson's Izaiah Pitts knocked the ball loose from Dakoda Shrader and recovered after a 28-yard pickup across midfield.
Stevenson made it count, as quarterback Dan Williams scrambled to extend the play on a 3rd-and-10 and hit Chaz Lyles for 36 yards deep into BC territory. Two plays later, Daqwan Hill broke a tackle up the middle and scored for a 28-10 Mustangs lead.
The Eagles went with their own trick play on the first snap of the fourth quarter, as Stephens took the toss and hit Shrader for a 39-yard TD. After a blocked PAT, the Eagles were back within two scores at 28-16.
The Eagles recovered their own fumble on a punt with seven minutes left in the game and went to work. The offensive line got a big push to help Jay Scroggins into the end zone with 4:43 remaining, cutting the Stevenson lead to 28-23. However, the Eagle defense couldn't get off the field as Stevenson responded with the clinching touchdown drive.
Demetreus Jalepes rushed for 114 yards on 21 carries, while former QB Brendon Maturey led all receivers with 81 yards on six catches.
Re'Shaun Myers had a team-best 10 tackles, while Dustin Green had seven stops and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Stevenson avoided a three-and-out on the game's opening possession when Vincent Lee caught a 27-yard pass right up the seam. The Mustangs converted that into seven points on a deep throw to Ryan Stango in the left corner of the end zone.
The Eagles responded with a big 13-play touchdown drive however, which was kickstarted by a long Alex Galloway return out to the 40.
Scroggins found Maturey in the flat for a first at the Stevenson 35, picked up another on a third down dive, and then yet another first down on an end-around handoff to Stephens. A Scroggins keeper completed the dynamic drive with 6:37 left in the quarter.
Stango caught another deep pass on the next Mustangs drive, before a Bobby Hix hurry forced a field goal attempt. Stevenson ran the fake however, and holder/backup QB Ty Crabb hit Riley Hodge for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Neither team could score for most of the second quarter. Stevenson finally ground out a 16-play, 74-yard, 6:39 drive that ended with a five-yard TD rush by Drexel Mosby to take a 21-7 lead with 1:16 remaining.
The Eagles got points out of their last-gasp drive however. Jalepes picked up 31 yards on a 3rd-and-26 with 12 seconds left; the Mustangs protected the end zone but the first down momentarily stopped the clock on the chains and allowed BC to rush down the field and spike. Cameron Gieseman nailed a 33-yarder as time expired to make it 21-10 at the break.
The Eagles couldn't convert on that momentum to begin the third as they drove across midfield before being forced to punt. Jose Gonzalez rolled a punt to within inches of the goalline, but Stevenson picked up 19 yards on an out route to Hodge to get out of the shadow of their end zone.
Bridgewater falls to 1-1 and will host another Saturday night non-conference game in a week's time vs. N.C. Wesleyan.