Bridgewater holds on for upset at #18 Thomas More

A 52-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation fell just short, as the Bridgewater College football team upset #18 Thomas More on the road Saturday.

bridgewater eaglesHead coach Michael Clark had emphasized stealing possessions in the game to keep up with the nationally-ranked Saints. On Bridgewater’s second possession the Eagles’ Plato Eliades faked a punt to keep the drive alive. After Brendon Maturey‘s TD rush, Malivai Barker carried in the two-point conversion to stretch the early lead to 8-0.

With four minutes left in the third, Bridgewater could have pinned TMC on the one-yard line following a running into the kicker flag on Eliades’ punt, but the Eagles went for it on 4th-and-1 and converted on Maturey’s rollout pass to Conner Kleffman. That drive ended with a Maturey TD dive and a 25-14 BC lead.

The Saints didn’t go easily, cutting the deficit to 25-20 in the fourth quarter with a one-yard Luke Zajac touchdown and a conversion that ultimately failed on the third try following penalties by both teams. Late in the game, the Eagles forced a kick on a goal-to-go situation to cling to a 25-23 advantage.

Maturey appeared to end the game with a first down completion to Rayvon Johnson in the final minutes, but the play was called back for an illegal man downfield. Thomas More drove into Bridgewater territory with no timeouts, leading to a 52-yard attempt from All-Conference kicker Cole Mathias that hung up just enough to fall short of the crossbar.

Maturey rushed for 78 yards and two TDs, including numerous key third and fourth down conversions; he also threw for a score. Malivai Barker rushed for 84 yards. Eliades averaged 39.4 yards per punt and pinned two kicks inside the five, counting the one that was cancelled out by a penalty.

The defense was led by linebacker Braden Thomson‘s 12 stops, while Chance Morris and Josh Brooks each intercepted a pass and broke up another.

The Eagles forced a three-and-out after their opening score and went right down the field again, taking a 15-0 lead on Maturey’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Rayvon Johnson.

Thomas More got on the board with 9:38 left in the second quarter as Hjavier Pitts broke a 73-yard rush off the right tackle. Penalties negated big plays for the hosts in that period, with Jacob Steinmetz’s fumble recovery wiped out due to a facemask, and quarterback Brenan Kuntz’s 57-yard TD scramble called off for a block in the back.

Bridgewater could have opened up the lead on either side of halftime, as three straight drives reached the Saints’ 25 and yielded zero points- on an interception and two missed field goals.

Pitts rushed for 160 yards on just 17 carries for Thomas More. Cam Hansel had a game-high 13 tackles including a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Bridgewater improves to 2-0 and will host The Apprentice School next Saturday night at Jopson Field.

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