GREENSBORO, N.C. – Matt Pawlowski’s (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) 10-yard touchdown pass to Nick Mearite (High Point, N.C./Ragsdale (UNC Pembroke)) with 7:13 left in regulation lifted Guilford College to a 23-20 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football win over Bridgewater College in a rare Thursday night contest.
The Quakers (3-3, 2-1 ODAC) erased deficits of 14-6 and 20-15 to score their first victory over the Eagles (4-2, 1-2 ODAC) since 2006 and the first home win for second-year head coach Chris Rusiewicz. The contest also marked Guilford’s first game on a Thursday since 1966.
Guilford’s defense limited Bridgewater to a single fourth-quarter touchdown and held the Eagles to three-and-out on the possession after the go-ahead score. Both teams used up their remaining timeouts on the Quakers’ next possession, which saw Guilford sustain the drive with a fourth-and-one conversion near midfield.
With both teams lacking timeouts, Guilford punted the ball back to Bridgewater, but the Eagles mishandled the fair catch. The Quakers’ Joseph Pearson (Winston-Salem, N.C./Parkland) recovered on the Eagles’ 16-yard line with 2:11 to play. Guilford took a knee on three successive plays to run out the clock and move to 3-3 for the first time since 2008.
Pawlowski, a freshman, passed for 258 yards with no interceptions and had a hand in all three Guilford touchdowns, two passing and one rushing. His one-yard keeper on third-and-goal gave the Quakers a 15-14 lead with six seconds left in the third quarter, their first of the game.
Bridgewater answered with a two-yard touchdown run by Ryan Green Ellis with 10:39 left that restored a 20-15 Eagles’ edge. Quarterback Willie Logan made three of his 14 pass completions on the drive, including two for first downs. Logan finished with 245 passing yards and also ran for 22 yards and two second-quarter touchdowns that opened a 14-6 Bridgewater advantage.
Bridgewater’s Jacob Wright led all ground gainers with 88 rushing yards on 17 carries. Teammates Nick Wimer and Michael Colee both made three catches to lead the Eagles and Salem Nganga paced the defense with a team-high 14 tackles.
Guilford’s Mearite made a game-high five catches and also caught a two-point conversion pass after his go-ahead fourth-quarter score. Rookie Adam Smith (Mocksville, N.C./Davie County) had four grabs for 59 yards, including a 22-yard, second-quarter touchdown catch. Reigning ODAC Defensive Player of the Week Robert Smith (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds) made a game-high 14 tackles, including a sack, for the sophomore’s seventh straight game with 10 or more stops. Satiir Stevenson and JerMario Gooch ended Bridgewater threats with interceptions deep in Guilford territory.
The Quakers return to action Oct. 20 when they visit league-rival Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.