In less than a decade, N.C. Wesleyan’s football program has had its fair share of ups and downs, but the Bishops had achieved one kind of domination.
The Bishops had won nine straight games against Greensboro College, which visited the Rocky Mount Sports Complex on Saturday.
They were perfect against at least one opponent, until a game that had a far-from-perfect start ended the streak with a 44-42 defeat.
“There’s no one to blame,” N.C. Wesleyan coach Jeff Filkovski said “Everybody is to blame. Until we get it right, we can’t get out of our own way.”
N.C. Wesleyan (1-5, 1-3 USA South) had its first two punts blocked, leading to 14 points, and N.C. Wesleyan muffed a punt on its very first touch – a turnover that gave the Pride three points.
But even after giving away 17 points in the first 23 minutes, the Bishops never trailed by more than 10.
N.C. Wesleyan eventually pulled within two points before starting free safety Williams Gonzales was injured while making a tackle on the Bishops’ sideline.
Gonzales laid on the ground, motionless, for multiple minutes before he was loaded into an ambulance.
After the game, Filkovski had no update on Gonzales’ status and did not know the severity of the injury.
From that point, N.C. Wesleyan and Greensboro (2-5, 1-3) traded touchdowns during the final four drives. Every time the Bishops pulled within one score, which happened three times in the second half, the missed opportunities – the Bishops also missed a 28-yard field goal to end the opening drive of the second half – and mistakes became more prevalent.
“I don’t want to blame it all on that, because there’s certainly a whole football game,” Filkovski said of the early special teams’ errors. “We can’t get out of our own way to win a football game right now.”
With Gonzalez out of the game, N.C. Wesleyan was unable to slow down the Pride’s passing attack.
Greensboro quarterback Ryan Throndset finished with 273 yards and found receiver Dexter Russell, who hauled in 13 receptions for 126 yards, for three touchdowns – two of which came in a 1:40 span in the second quarter.
Gonzales’ fellow safety Travonne Marshall, who played at Tarboro and Northern Nash, called Gonzalez the quarterback of the defense and said that he personally was affected by the injury.
“I love Gonzo,” Marshall said. “That’s like my brother. ... I understand him, and he understands me. We know what we can do in the secondary together. Losing him hurt me real bad.”
Even after losing one of its defensive leaders, N.C. Wesleyan never folded. After Gonzales’ injury, the Bishops scored twice more on passes from quarterback Robbie Lanier, who finished with 320 yards, to receivers Greg Edwards and John Young.
N.C. Wesleyan finished with 516 total yards and six touchdowns, led by running back Jacques Alston who gained 231 total yards and scored twice on the ground.
“It’s just practicing harder the next four weeks – making field goals, tackles, contributing on offense – and just continuing to push until the season is over with,” said Alston, who routinely made long plays out of bad chances, including a 77-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Greensboro College 44
N.C. Wesleyan 42
GC 10 20 7 7 – 44
NCWC 7 14 7 14 – 42
GC – Luis Rico 27 field goal, 8:34
GC – Joseph Lewis 1 blocked punt return (Mark Bush kick), 7:04
NCWC – Elgin Counts 4 pass from Robbie Lanier (Chris Richardson kick), 2:43
NCWC – Jacques Alston 9 run (Richardson kick), 12:56
GC – Dexter Russell 11 pass from Ryan Throndset (Bush kick), 9:11
GC – Russell 12 pass from Throndset (Bush kick), 7:28
NCWC – Alston 77 run (Richardson kick), 7:08
GC – Cortez Vernon 4 run (kick failed), :25
NCWC – Lanier 1 run (Richardson kick), 6:11
GC – Russell 3 pass from Throndset (Bush kick), 1:07
NCWC – Greg Edwards 9 pass from Lanier (Richardson kick), 12:46
GC – Lewis 26 run (Bush kick), 8:53
NCWC – John Young 14 pass from Lanier (Richardson kick), 4:54
23 First downs.................25
274 Passing yards.............320
397 Total offense............516
Rushing – GC: Cortez Vernon 23-93; Joseph Lewis 6-47; Jake Smith 2-(-1); Ryan Throndset 10-(-16). NCWC: Jacques Alston 20-180; Elgin Counts 3-23; Gerrel Patton 1-5; Robbie Lanier 3-(-12).
Passing – GC: Throndset 26-36-3, 274. NCWC: Lanier 24-33-3, 320.
Receiving – GC: Dexter Russell 13-126; Raymond Bridges 4-47; Vernon 3-43; Tripp Honeycutt 2-24; Justin Dukes 2-21; Johntavis Brown 1-7; Lewis 1-6. NCWC: John Young 7-137; Alston 5-51; Malik Adams 4-51; Greg Edwards 4-45; Brice Wordsworth 3-32; Counts 1-4.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org