Emory & Henry scored 27 unanswered points to break a 7-7 first-quarter deadlock as the Wasps remained unbeaten on the year with a 34-21 victory over the Bridgewater Eagles on a dreary Saturday afternoon at the Jopson Athletic Complex.
The win for Emory & Henry is its first in the series since 2008 and marks the Wasps first 5-0 start since 1998.
Jordan Hartman set the Eagles up with solid field position on the opening kickoff, returning the kick 60 yards to open the first drive of the game at the Emory & Henry 37. Bridgewater moved down field to the 26 before settling for a 43-yard field goal attempt. Chandler DeHaven‘s kick sailed wide to the left to keep the game scoreless.
Emory & Henry (5-0, 2-0 ODAC) answered with a quick scoring drive. The Wasps moved 74 yards in seven plays as a Chris Thompson six-yard touchdown run put the visitors ahead by a 7-0 score with 10:40 to go in the first.
Bridgewater (4-1, 1-1 ODAC) responded with a score of its own on the next drive. A four-play, 77-yard scoring drive was capped off by a 23-yard Jacob Wright touchdown carry to knot the game up at seven each with 8:53 to play in the opening frame.
After both scores, the defenses began to settle in. Emory & Henry moved into Bridgewater territory early in the second quarter and elected to go for it on fourth down. Quarterback Kevin Saxton’s pass fell incomplete, handing the ball back to the Eagles.
The Eagles marched downfield on their next possession before settling for a 45-yard DeHaven field goal. DeHaven’s kick was pushed to the right, keeping the score tied, 7-7, with 8:55 to go in the first half.
Emory & Henry capitalized on the missed opportunity. The Wasps used a heavy dose of Isaiah Rodgers and Thompson to get deep into Bridgewater territory before Saxton connected with Josh Smith on a seven-yard touchdown pass to build the Emory & Henry lead to 14-7 with 7:13 remaining in the second stanza.
A rare special teams miscue on the Eagles proved costly and allowed the Wasps to take a 21-7 lead into the locker room. Bridgewater snapped a fourth-down punt into the up man and the Wasps fell on the ball at the Eagles’ 29 to setup the final score of the second quarter. Four plays later, Saxton found Ashton Cline for a one-yard score to build a 14-point halftime lead for the Wasps.
Out of the intermission, Emory & Henry looked to pad its lead further but Lucas Elliott intercepted a Saxton pass in the endzone to give the ball back to the Bridgewater offense, thwarting a lengthy drive for the Wasps.
Bridgewater moved downfield with a 12-play drive to move inside the Emory & Henry 30. Junior Matthew Pisarcik‘s fourth-down pass was intended for Jeffrey Moore but the pass fell incomplete, handing the ball back to the Wasps.
Following the turnover on downs, Emory & Henry used another run-heavy drive to extend the lead to 28-7. Rodgers capped off a 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown jaunt to push the lead to 21 with 2:39 to go in the third.
Both defenses settled in again, with the Wasps picking off Pisarcik twice before Emory & Henry got back on the board late in the fourth. Saxton connected with Lucas Kirby on a seven-yard strike to build the lead to 34-7. The PAT was bobbled and the Eagles fell on the ball to keep the game at a 27-point difference with 5:15 to go in regulation.
DeHaven popped the onside kick into the air on the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles recovered the ball to set up the offense in Emory & Henry territory as Bridgewater looked for late-game heroics against the Wasps.
After the onside kick, Rushing scooted in from three yards for the final score of the game to trim the gap to 34-21.
Saxton led the Wasps through the air with a 25-for-43 effort for 266 yards and three scores. The freshman transfer from Appalachian State was intercepted twice on the day.
Emory & Henry rolled up 201 yards on the ground with Thompson and Rodgers each posting 81 yard games. The tandem also each ran for a score in the win.
Smith hauled in a game-high 11 catches for 79 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Wasps were led by Roth Healey’s nine tackle afternoon.
Rushing led the Bridgewater aerial assault with 165 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-23 passing. Pisarcik struggled with 87 yards on 10-of-21 passing. The junior was intercepted three times on the day.
Wright rolled up 88 yards on 16 carries and added a score as Bridgewater rushed for 137 yards in the game.
Moore hauled in nine passes for a game-high 118 yards.
Darrick Gore led the defense with 13 tackles and three breakups.
Emory & Henry outgained Bridgewater by a 467-389 margin.
A sloppy weather day turned into a sloppy day on the field for both teams. Bridgewater was penalized 14 times for 94 yards and the Wasps were penalized 11 times for 106 yards.
Bridgewater returns to action on Saturday at Guilford. Start time is set for 1 p.m.