HAMPDEN SYDNEY, Va. – The No. 25 Hampden-Sydney College Football Team (5-1, 3-0 ODAC) claimed the top spot in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference standings with a 49-27 victory over visiting Emory & Henry College (5-1, 2-1 ODAC) at Everett Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Tigers are ranked No. 25 in NCAA Division III by D3football.com and are receiving votes in the AFCA Division III Top 25 Poll.
The contest appeared as if it would be a barn-burner from the outset with HSC going down the field with the opening drive 70 yards in five plays for a five-yard touchdown catch by Mitch Pereira from Nash Nance.
Emory & Henry responded to tie the contest at a touchdown apiece when senior wideout Lucas Kirby (Covington, Va.) hauled in a 10-yard pass on an inside slant route from freshman quarterback Kevin Saxton (Monroe, N.C.) with 9:36 to go in the opening quarter.
Eleven seconds later, Holton Walter put the Tigers back on top with a 75-yard catch and run for the score and the 14-7 advantage on the first play of the ensuing drive.
The Wasps closed the gap to 14-13 early in the second quarter after a 12-play, 73-yard drive that saw Saxton plunge in from a yard out for the score. A 13-yard rush by freshman running back Chris Thompson (Blue Ridge, Va.) set up first and goal for E&H on the drive.
Hampden-Sydney scored the next 35 points of the contest including a trio of touchdowns in the second quarter for a 35-13 halftime advantage. Walker snagged a 30-yard pass from Nance while Brady Macko ran one in from 27 yards out. The Tiger defense also put points on the board, returning an interception 23 yards with 1:41 remaining in the half.
In the third quarter, it was Walker again, who continued his performance with a 43-yard touchdown catch. Walker finished the game with 10 catches for 275 yards and three touchdowns, the third-most yards by an ODAC wide receiver ever. Hampden-Sydney made it 49-13 on the first play of the fourth quarter when Austin Seay caught a two-yard pass from Nance.
Emory & Henry scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the final score 49-27. The Wasps went down the field in a seven-play strike covering 72 yards in just 1:46. Senior wide receiver Josh Smith (Radford, Va.) caught four passes on the drive for a total for 32 yards, including a three-yard reception for the touchdown.
The Wasps also regained some of their confidence on special teams after some early-game miscues. After forcing HSC to a three-and-out, the punt defense came through with senior safety Clint Peregoy (Salem, Va.) blocking the punt for freshman defensive back Andrew Long (Asheville, N.C.) to scoop and score from 24 yards out.
Emory & Henry seemed if it was going to cut into the Hampden-Sydney lead further, but an interception in the end zone sealed the deal. The Tigers were able to hold onto the ball for the final 5:39 of the contest, claiming the 49-27 win.
Nance piloted the HSC offense to 640 total yards as he threw for 481 yards and five scores on 25-for-35 passing. While Walker was his favorite target, a total of nine Tigers caught passes including Michael Mey with five receptions for 112 yards. Macko finished the day with 126 rushing yards on 19 carries and a score.
Emory & Henry accumulated 462 yards of offense but was plagued by a pair of fumbles and two interceptions. Saxton was 33-for-55 for 335 yards and two scores through the air and 14 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Thompson had 76 rushing yards to lead the Wasps' ground game. Kirby caught 10 passes for 72 yards and a score while Smith had seven catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively for HSC, Shreve Rohle had 10 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown while Sidney Henry made nine stop, forced a fumble and broke up two passes. Nick Martin made eight tackles, forcing and recovering a fumble.
Senior linebacker Sami Khabir (Capitol Heights, Md.) led the Wasps' defense with eight tackles – including one for a loss – and a forced fumble. Peregoy, senior linebacker Paul Forney (Newton, N.C.), junior linebacker Rennel Marshall (Rustburg, Va.) and sophomore corner Tre'von Lightfoot (Big Island, Va.) all had seven tackles.
Emory & Henry will return home next Saturday for Homecoming weekend at Fred Selfe Stadium as the Wasps host the Cardinals of The Catholic University of America. The contest will also mark the dedication of the football field as Nicewonder Field. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.