With the win, Newberry moves to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in South Atlantic Conference action, while Wingate drops to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in SAC play.
Senior quarterback Brandon Gantt (Lexington) had a career-high 336 yards passing, with two receivers posting career days. Sophomore Brandon Bostick (Florence) caught nine passes for 158 yards, and senior David Smith (Union) had seven catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. It was the first time Newberry had two receivers over 100 yards in the same game since Tymere Zimmerman and Charles Brandon each eclipsed the century mark against Carson-Newman in 2005.
Defensively, safety Ron Parker (St. Helena Island) had two interceptions in the game, including a 54-yard touchdown return on what turned out to be the game-winning score in the fourth quarter. Apollo Stretch (Columbia) was the team’s leading tackler with seven tackles, a sack, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.
As a team, Newberry outgained Wingate, 448-312, with Wingate quarterback Cody Haffly completing 15-of-38 passes for 232 yards, three touchdowns and the two Parker interceptions. Both teams converted on all of their red zone opportunites, but Wingate won the turnover battle with four takeaways to Newberry’s three.
Newberry received the opening kickoff and quickly got into scoring position after S.J. Worrell (Madison, Ga.) went 44 yards on the game’s opening play, with another nine yards tacked on for a face mask penalty. However, the drive stalled and Newberry had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Britt Blackmon (Kershaw) to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs took the lead on the ensuing drive after starting at the Newberry 48. A 25-yard pass from Haffly to Chris Bowden helped the drive along and Vince Jordan’s carry for three yards out gave Wingate a 7-3 lead with less than five minutes gone in the game.
The two sides traded punts with Newberry pinned at its own 5-yardline following the kick from Phillip Hilliard. The Scarlet and Gray drove down the field with long completions to Smith and Bostick, but once again the drive fell short of the end zone. Blackmon made the score 7-6 following a career-long 42-yard field goal into the wind.
After another Wingate punt, the hosts got the ball back after a fumble by Bostick at the Newberry 44. Just three plays later, Haffly found Perry Floyd for a 33-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-6.
Newberry started the next drive at its own 35 and took only four plays to find paydirt, with Worrell’s carry from five yards out making it a 14-12 game. Alkeem Sherman (Conway) scored the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-all.
Wingate reclaimed the lead on the next drive, with the surge capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Haffly to Floyd, making it a 21-14 scoreline, which would carry over into the halftime break.
Parker intercepted a Haffly pass near midfield on Wingate’s second drive of the second half and Newberry converted two third-and-long chances before Gerald Legree (St. Helena Island) punched it in from five yards out to tie the game at 21-all.
Neither team could score again in the third quarter and two Newberry drives into Bulldog territory were killed by turnovers, but it was a big play by Antonio Patton (Woodruff) that would help push things in Newberry’s favor. Patton fielded a punt at his own 11-yardline and made a weaving run all the way to the Wingate 16 - a gain of 77 yards - before a Bulldog could bring him to the turf. An illegal block penalty brought the ball back to the 26, but Gantt found Smith in the end zone on the first play of the drive to give Newberry a 28-21 lead.
Parker extended that lead to 35-21 on the next drive, picking off Haffly’s pass at the Newberry 46 and sprinting untouched to the endzone for the score. Parker leads the team in both tackles and interceptions, having picked off five passes this season.
Haffly led his troops down the field to the end zone on the next drive, completing the scoring on a 31-yard touchdown pass to Delric Ellington. Kamaal McIlwain (Van Wyck) burst through the line on the PAT attempt though, and came away with a blocked kick for the second straight game. Wingate had one more chance to score and tie the game, but Jonathan Stone (Easley) and Bruce Bagley (Winnsboro) came away with back-to-back sacks to force Wingate to punt it away with 2:46 to play.
Newberry kept the clock and the chains moving to end the game. The ground game produced three first downs to end the game on a winning note for Newberry.
The win was Newberry’s fifth straight victory over the Bulldogs and ties the all-time series at 10-10. Gantt’s 336 yards is the ninth most in a single game in Newberry history, and the third time the senior has gone over the 300-yard mark in passing yardage this season. His 2009 campaign currently stands as the eighth best in school history with at least three games to play, sitting on 1,776 yards. Bostick’s 158 yards is the eighth-best receiving game in school history. Parker’s five interceptions in a season is tied for seventh best in the Newberry annals.
Newberry will look to keep the momentum rolling next week, as the Scarlet and Gray welcome the Tusculum Pioneers (1-6, 0-4 SAC) to Setzler Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday.
Courtesy of Newberry College Sports Information.