Quarterback Matthew Pisarcik hit wide receiver Jayme Perry on a 16-yard pattern to hand the Eagles the lead and the defense held Gettysburg off of the scoreboard when it mattered as Bridgewater College earned a 33-32 victory over the Bullets on Saturday at Shirk Field at Musselman Stadium.
Pisarcik’s touchdown pass to Perry capped off a pass-heavy drive for the Eagles as the junior completed five of his last seven passes to push the Bridgewater ahead for good in a back-and-forth season opener. The win for Bridgewater was its ninth straight season-opening victory.
Bridgewater opened the scoring in the first frame when junior Chandler DeHaven split the uprights from 23 yards out to put the Eagles out in front by a 3-0 score with 6:53 to play in the first. DeHaven’s field goal capped off an eight-play, 54-yard drive for the Eagles.
After a quick three-and-out for the Bullets, the Eagles struck in a hurry to pad the lead to double digits. Following two opening game drives from Ross Rushing, Pisarcik entered the game and connected with Jeffrey Moore on a six-yard touchdown strike to build the Bridgewater advantage to 10-0 with 2:11 to go in the opening frame.
Bridgewater’s defense finally gave way at the end of the first quarter as Zach Miller capped off a quick 58-yard scoring drive with a one-yard quarterback keeper to trim the Eagles’ lead to 10-6 at the end of the first stanza. The Bullets bobbled the snap on the PAT to keep the Eagles out in front by four points.
The quarterback shuffle continued for the Eagles in the second quarter as Rushing re-entered the contest and pushed the lead back to double figures. A quick, two-play drive was capped off by a Rushing to Cliff Woodard strike from 66 yards out as Rushing caught a slanting Woodard and the senior scampered down the sideline to put the Eagles up 16-6 after DeHaven’s PAT was blocked with 10:57 to go in the first half.
Gettysburg had the final say in the first half as the Bullets took a 19-16 lead into the locker room. The Bullets embarked on back-to-back 10-plus-play scoring drives to take a three-point halftime advantage. Miller hit Brandon Sparks on a one-yard strike to trim the gap to three prior to Miller jaunting to the endzone from 10 yards out in the waning seconds of the first half to send the Eagles to the locker room staring down a three-point deficit.
As the game went to the intermission, lightning caused a delay that lasted over an hour.
Out of the delay, the Eagles struck first as Pisarcik capped off a seven-play, 67-yard drive with a 37-yard connection with Woodard to put Bridgewater back in front by a 23-19 margin. The touchdown was Woodard’s second of the day.
Both defenses settled in over the middle part of the third quarter and the Bullets got a defensive score to regain the lead with 4:04 remaining on the third quarter clock. Rushing dropped back at the Bridgewater 37 and Dan Ciemniecki stepped in front of the junior’s pass and sprinted 45 yards to the endzone to put Gettysburg back up, this time by a 26-23 tally.
Following the pick-six, the Bridgewater offense took over to start the fourth quarter and went on a clock-chewing drive. The Eagles churned to the Gettysburg four, but the Bullets defense wouldn’t break despite three-straight Bridgewater carries inside the five. Gettysburg turned away the Eagles, but DeHaven’s 21-yard chip shot knotted the game up at 26 each with 7:41 to go. Bridgewater’s game-tying drive grinding 7:41 off of the clock and lasted 15 plays.
Gettysburg responded to the Bridgewater touchdown with a score of its own. An 11-play, 65-yard drive was capped off by a Kyle Wigley touchdown run to put the Bullets up by a 32-26 score. On the ensuing PAT, junior Matt Johnson swatted the kick out of the air, holding the score at a 32-26 tally with 3:05 remaining.
On the final drive of the game, Pisarcik threw three straight incomplete passes to put the Eagles in a do-or-die fourth down situation. Pisarcik connected with junior Peter Monteleone on a 16-yard route to keep the drive alive before a short pass to Kevin Barr moved the Eagles inside of Bullets territory. A pass interference call moved the ball to the 35 and three plays later Perry caught the tying touchdown pass and DeHaven then split the uprights to build a 33-32 lead.
After the score, the Bullets moved into Bridgewater territory but Miller’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete as time expired as the Eagles held off Gettysburg in thrilling fashion in the opener.
Pisarcik led the way behind center with a 19-for-30 effort for 202 yards and three scores. Rushing added in a 4-for-11 effort for 116 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, senior Jacob Wright led the Eagles with 90 yards and 17 carries. On the day, Bridgewater rushed for 135 yards on 34 carries.
Through the air, Moore led the way with six receptions. Woodard hauled in five passes for a game-high 135 yards and one score.
Defensively, senior Alex Collins was stellar from his linebacker post. Collins turned in a game-high 13 tackles, including nine solo stops. The Bridgewater, Va. native also led the way with a game-high two sacks and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Miller finished the day with an 18-for-31 effort for 203 yards and a score. He also added 42 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Fred Caruso hauled in four receptions for 45 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bullets were led by three players with 10 tackles.
Bridgewater outgained the Bullets by a 453-to-407 margin.
The Eagles return to action on Saturday for the home opener against Greensboro. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in the first night football game in school history.