Walking off the field at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, N.C. Wesleyan could have been sure of two things.
The Bishops had the ability to play with Salisbury, which was ranked as the preseason No. 12 team in Division III.
They also cost themselves a chance at the first victory of the season.
The Bishops turned over the ball four times, including a goal-line interception in the fourth quarter, in the process of a 28-10 loss Saturday.
“They didn’t beat us out there, we beat ourselves,” senior defensive lineman Macdonald Payoute said. “We just have to come
Even with all of the issues, N.C. Wesleyan (0-3) had a chance late.
On the Salisbury 10-yard line, sophomore quarterback Robbie Lanier dropped back with an easy read to make late in the fourth quarter. One receiver cut open across the middle, and the other near the back of the end zone
toward the sideline.
A completed pass and a likely touchdown to follow would have pulled the Bishops back within four points with eight minutes to play.
Lanier just plain missed, and the ball was thrown directly to Salisbury cornerback Andre Carter.
“He missed him,” first-year N.C. Wesleyan coach Jeff Filkovski said. “He missed him big time. ... As I told him, we’ll check his fundamentals and make sure his feet are right. You can’t miss that bad. He missed him by yards.”
That wound up being N.C. Wesleyan’s last chance as Salisbury (1-2) ran out seven minutes on its final drive, leaving the Bishops with the lasting taste of missed opportunities and big mistakes.
“We’re playing hard, and we’re getting after it,” Filkovski said. “The little things are just holding us back and not letting us get a 'W’ on Saturdays.”
After its first scoring drive, the Bishops had as many turnovers as first downs on their next three combined possessions.
Still, midway through the third quarter, Salisbury took just a 21-3 lead. From there, N.C. Wesleyan hurt itself.
Within 11 points just a few seconds into the fourth quarter, Bishops cornerback Marques Holmes’ diving interception brought the N.C. Wesleyan bench to its feet. The Bishops were poised to pull within one score before the pick was nullified by a roughing the pass penalty.
“We just have to limit the little mistakes, jumping offsides, unsportsmanlike and things like that,” Payoute said.
N.C. Wesleyan still had its chance to forget a game of missed chances after Lanier led them down the field with eight minutes to play. He completed a pair of long passes – a 16-yarder and a 44-yard fly route – on the drive, but his final throw ended the Bishops hopes of an upset.
“When you play a good football team, you have to take advantage of your opportunities,” Filkovski said. “Certainly in pregame, I told them, 'We need to take care of the football. If we don’t take care of the football, it’s going to be a tough one to win.’”
Salisbury (Md.) 28
N.C. Wesleyan 10
S 7 0 14 7 – 28
NCWC 3 0 0 7 – 10
NCWC – Chris Richardson 23 field goal, 7:59
S – Jerome Johnson 6 run (Jack Molloy kick), 3:31
S – Johnson 5 run (Molloy kick), 10:07
S – Isaiah Taylor 37 pass from Joey Jones (Molloy kick), 5:05
NCWC – Robbie Lanier 4 run (Richardson kick), 14:57
S – J.D. Hook 19 run (Molloy kick), :43
19 First downs.................14
108 Passing yards.............172
353 Total offense..............234
Rushing – S: J.D Hook 10-65; Desmond Sivels 5-39; Tyler West 5-35; Jerome Johnson 5-29; Joey Jones 6-17; Lonnie Liggins 7-17; Brandon Norwood 2-16; Nick Aloi 4-12; Joey Sutch 3-10; John Dunbar 7-5. NCWC: Elgin Counts 24-78; James Harris 3-12; Robbie Lanier 8-(-28).
Passing – S: Jones 4-11-1, 92; Dunbar 1-3-0, 16. NCWC: Lanier 11-21-0, 172. Receiving – S: Isaiah Taylor 2-53; Boomer Coombs 1-29; Aloi 1-13; Johnson 1-13. NCWC: Malik Adams 4-74; Greg Edwards 3-70; Marckenson Voltaire 2-25; Brice Wordsworth 1-3.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or email@example.com