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Shenandoah spoils NC Wesleyan home opener

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N.C. Wesleyan College running back Deandre Gillis, right, attempts to fend off Shenandoah University's Nate Hill during a run Saturday at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Saturday, September 9, 2017

It was a one-percent play.

At least that’s how N.C. Wesleyan wide receiver Brandon Leake described it.

“That play usually doesn’t even go to me,” Leake said. “I got behind the safety and Nate (Gardner) put the ball right on me. That play is a one-percenter.”

Leake hauled in a long touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Gardner midway through the first quarter to give the Bishops a brief lead over visiting Shenandoah on Saturday. But that play was the lone bright spot in a 61-14 loss.

The Hornets offensive barrage was too much to handle as they set a new program record for points scored against a Bishops defensive unit that has been leaky for consecutive weeks. In a loss to Mount Union in the season opener, the Bishops allowed 58 points.

Not much went right for the NCWC in the first half of its home opener, and not much changed after halftime as the Bishops couldn’t find any rhythm on offense, while the Hornets marched down the field one possession after the other.

The Bishops (0-2) commited five turnovers in the first half, all coming on their first six drives. Running backs Deandre Gillis and Darian Curley each lost a fumble, as did Gardner who also tossed an interception. Mixed in with the turnovers was a missed field goal after a false start penalty negated a good kick.

NCWC finished with six turnovers.

Leake’s touchdown showed off the vertical passing threat of the offense, but that only appeared in flashes against a Hornets defense that seemed to have an answer for everything the Bishops tried. Leake finished with a game-high 93 receiving yards.

“You can’t have all of those turnovers and expect to win,” Bishops coach Jeff Filkovski said. “They were timely fumbles, too. Gave them a short field to drive and score.”

Gardner and Leake connected again for a long pass play late in the third quarter to move into Hornets territory after three consecutive three-and-outs. That set up Gardner’s second touchdown pass to freshman Dupre Falls, who had a strong game with 57 yards.

“I’m just a freshman so I’m trying to prove myself,” Falls said. “I’m not sure what type of things they were running on defense, but we couldn’t get much going.”

It didn’t help that Shenandoah’s passing offense was as good as advertised.

The Hornets (2-0) scored points on 10 of their 13 drives, led by quarterback Hayden Bauserman’s 334 passing yards. Bauserman also tossed five touchdowns to four different receivers.

Shenandoah had three pass-catchers over 50 receiving yards.

The Hornets rushing attack was solid as well, hitting gaping holes that the Bishops couldn’t fill.

Cory Bell ran for a game-high 114 yards and a touchdown, while backfield-mate Mario Wisdom added 84 and a pair of scores.

For the Bishops, some backfield questions have been answered as Gillis rebounded after the early fumble to get the bulk of the carries over Curley, a transfer from Averett.

Gillis ran for 99 yards.

NCWC hopes to clean up its play as the team opens USA South play next week at Huntingdon.

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