skip to Main Content
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 Wins First Road Playoff Game in Program History, Downing Top Seed Benedict

For the first time in NCAA Playoff history, the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears won a playoff game on the road with a 35-25 triumph at Benedict on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Dwayne McGee rushed for an LR NCAA Playoff record 216 yards as the Bears advance to the National Quarterfinal for the third time in the past five years.

For the 11th time this year, Lenoir-Rhyne scored first. McGee scampered 29 yards as he reversed fields and capped a 6-play, 73-yard drive to put the Bears up 7-0. The Tigers would answer right back with a 58-yard pass on the first play of their next drive. The extra point was blocked and LR led 7-6.

The Bears pinned BC deep but on the first play of the drive, Aeneas Dennis hit Reginald Harden for an 87 yard touchdown. Harden caught the first TD as well and ended the quarter with two grabs for 145 yards. The two point conversion failed as Benedict led 12-7.  Zayvion Turner-Knox ran one in from four yards out at the 13:32 mark of the second quarter to put LR up 14-12 but the half would end with Dennis’ third TD toss, this one covering 29 yards, as Benedict led 19-14.

The Bears defense had back-to-back sacks on Benedict’s first possession of the second half, forcing them to punt from their own 1. The LR drive started at the 22 and was capped by a 21-yard strike from Sean White to Songa Yates as LR regained the lead. It was Yates’ sixth touchdown grab of the past three games.  White then hit John Godwin for a 26 yard strike with 4:42 left in the third quarter as LR’s lead swelled to 28-19.

Turner-Knox converted a 2-yard TD run which was the final play of a 7-play, 80-yard drive to put LR up 35-19 with 9:42 left in the game. Dennis hit Harden one more time to make it 35-25 with a 36-yard score. However, the Bears wouldn’t allow another point and came away with the 10-point win.

Two of the top five defenses in the nation combined to allow 1,001 total yards. LR accumulated 560 yards while Benedict had 441. McGee had 21 carries to gain his LR NCAA Playoff record 216 yards. Sean White went 27-of-35 for 310 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Kelin Parsons led LR with six grabs for 103 yards. Dennis finished with 376 yards passing and four touchdowns with one interception which came on a last second heave to the end zone. Harden had six catches for 230 yards and three TDs. Jon Ross Maye led LR with 11 total tackles and Andre Jefferson added two sacks. Percy King had eight tackles, two TFLs and an interception.

Benedict is the highest ranked team LR has beaten in the AFCA National Poll era (2000-present). The previous highest-ranked team they defeated was No. 12 Wingate in 2019. The Bears move to 33-7 in the month of November since 2010. The Bears also advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinal in 2013, 2018 and 2019.

Andre Jefferson is now just 0.5 sack behind Jaquan Artis for most career sacks. Jefferson has 28.5. This was the 10th all-time NCAA Playoff win in program history. The 87-yard TD pass is the longest pass allowed by LR since September 18. 2021.

The last team to throw four touchdown passes against an LR defense was Newberry on October 29, 2016. Harden is the first receiver to top 200 yards against LR since Oct. 12, 2013 when Frank Martino of North Greenville had 209 on 19 catches.

The Bears, 12-1, advance to the Regional Final and NCAA Quarterfinal on Saturday when they travel to Valdosta St. in a rematch of the 2018 NCAA Quarterfinal.