ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – The Shenandoah University football team opened its season with a win for the sixth straight year thanks to a 35-19 non-league victory at N.C. Wesleyan Saturday afternoon.
Shenandoah (1-0) opened up a 21-0 lead by halftime but needed two scores in the final two minutes of the game as NCWC (1-1) stormed back in it with 13 points in the third quarter and six points in the fourth.
Now leading 21-19, the Hornets drove 83 yards on eight plays in the middle of the fourth quarter to put some breathing room between themselves and the Bishops.
Senior Mario Wisdom, who had a 3-yard TD run in the second quarter, capped off the drive with a 16-yard TD run on 3rd-down-and-3.
The two teams traded turnovers-on-downs on the next two possessions before Shenandoah clinched the victory by picking off N.C. Wesleyan QB Donielle Totten for the fourth time.
This pick, the fourth of five on the day for SU, led to a Ben Agostino-to-Rashadeen Byrd Jr. 8-yard TD pass four plays later.
The TD was Byrd's third of the game and the Hornets third on a possession that started via a Totten interception.
The final pick, by Mike Amobi, came in the end zone in the last minute of the contest. Shenandoah only had to kneel down one time to close out its sixth straight season opening win.
The five interceptions in a new school record.
SU jumped out to a 21-0 lead with three touchdowns in the second quarter. Two of the TDs came following Totten interceptions and all three were on the ground.
Rashadeen Byrd had TD runs of 5 and 4 yards at the 12:06 and 7:51 marks of the second, respectively, before Wisdom made it 21-0 with 21 seconds to go in the half by blasting over from the 3.
That play completed a five-play, 35-yard drive that started with a Tyler Williams pick.
Williams had two interceptions in the game and his first pick set up Byrd's second touchdown.
The opening scoring drive was a 10-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a Byrd TD run from the 5.
The Bishops scored on 85- and 68-yard pass plays and a 3-yard TD run. They bobbled a snap on their first PAT and missed on the third to allow SU to maintain the two-point lead.
Ben Rhodenizer 7 carries for 79 yards
Mario Wisdom 14 carries for 52 yards and 2 TDs
Rashadeen Byrd Jr. 10 carries for 44 yards and 2 TDs
Casey Stewart 6 catches for 80 yards
Jake Wallace 9 catches for 77
Ethan Bigbee 7 catches for 49 yards
"I am very proud of how the whole team battled," head coach Scott Yoder said. "We had a great defensive plan and execution, especially in the first half.
- This is the sixth straight year that the Hornets have opened the season with a win
- Wesleyan leads the all-time series 7-6 with SU winning five of the last six
- The three rushing touchdowns scored are the most in four years
- The five interceptions breaks the previous record of four last done in the 2018 season opener at Methodist