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Dwayne McGee
Dwayne McGee ran for a program playoff record 216 yards in the win over top seeded Benedict.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Football Suffers First Loss of Season in Road Game at Wingate

The No. 7 Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team scored a touchdown with 1:01 left to go up three points but rival Wingate answered on the first play of their ensuing drive with a 75-yard touchdown pass to upset the Bears, 34-30. The loss ends LR’s 10-game regular season winning streak, the second longest streak in the nation. Jalen Ferguson threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns but his last second heave into the end zone was picked off for the only turnover by either team in the game.

For the first time this season, LR didn’t score first as Wingate’s first drive went 12 plays for 52 yards and ended in a Matt Flanders touchdown grab from two yards out. On the Bears next possession, Jalen Ferguson hit John Godwin for an 8-yard TD.

Wingate connected on a 39-yard field goal to go up 10-7 and LR answered with a 19-yard strike from Ferguson to Malik Simmons. Wingate took a halftime lead after Brooks Bentley hit Tremel Jones for a 47-yard strike to make it 17-14.

The Bulldogs first drive of the second half as a 15-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal to put the hosts up 20-14. LR wasted little time answering as Dwayne McGee took a carry 63 yards to the house but the extra point failed and the game was tied at 20.

Jake Brown hit a short 20-yard field goal with 9:14 left in the fourth quarter to give LR a 23-20 edge but Wingate’s Bentley scrambled 26 yards for a touchdown make it 27-23 WU.

The back-and-forth contest swung back LR’s way as the punctuated a 15-play, 70-yard drive that took 5:12 off the clock when Ferguson connected with Songa Yates at the 1:01 mark to put LR back up 30-27.

However, on Wingate’s next drive Bentley threaded a pass between two LR defenders to hit Evan McCray for a 75-yard TD with 50 seconds left to play.

Ferguson would lead LR to Wingate’s 25 with four seconds left but his toss to the end zone was picked off by Dequan Mosley in the end zone to seal the Wingate victory.

Bentley finished the day with 335 yards passing and three touchdowns without an interception and added 37 yards rushing and a score.

McGee netted 170 yards rushing on 17 carries and Deondre Lester had five catches for 95 yards. The Bears had the advantage in total yards 483-439 but were just 1-of-9 on third downs. Meanwhile, Wingate connected on 7-of-13 third down conversions.

LR has now lost two straight to Wingate after winning five in a row from 2018-21. Each of Wingate’s last two wins against LR have resulted in late passing touchdowns. The Bulldogs stole a win in 2022 on a 10-yard TD pass with 4:29 to play. Five of the last seven battles between these two programs have been decided by one possession.

This game featured the top two defenses in the SAC and two of the top 10 defenses in the nation. It was the offenses who flexed their muscles with 922 total yards of offense combined.

Bentley’s rushing touchdown was just the fourth score on the ground given up by LR this year. The Bears drop to 76-24 in the last 100 SAC games.

The Bears are still 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the South Atlantic Conference. LR will return to action next Saturday when they host Catawba for Senior Day at 2 p.m.