College Football Final – Guilford 28, Ferrum 27

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Alex Manley’s (Pfafftown, N.C./West Stokes (Emory & Henry)) 65-yard touchdown pass to Montek Johnson (Hamlet, N.C./Richmond Senior) broke a 21-21 tie and lifted Guilford College to a 28-27 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football win over visiting Ferrum College Friday night.

Ferrum (3-2, 1-2 ODAC) answered on its ensuing possession when junior running back Brian Mann (Pearisburg, Va./Giles) ran 37 yards for his second touchdown of the night. Guilford’s Trevon Simmons blocked the ensuing point-after kick, the Quakers’ (2-3, 1-2 ODAC) second block of the game.

Clinging to a one-point cushion, Guilford took over at its own 24-yard line with four minutes and five seconds left in regulation. The Quakers successfully ran the clock out thanks to two first-down runs by redshirt-senior De’Eric Bell (Jackson, Ga./Jackson) and a first-down gain by Manley.

Both Bell and Manley keyed the Quakers’ offense and helped Guilford open a 21-7 second-quarter lead. Bell carried 28 times for 152 yards and his school-record 14th touchdown of the season. He set the tone on the game-opening drive with five carries for 52 yards, including a two-yard touchdown. Bell, ranked second among NCAA Division III all-purpose yardage leaders, added 46 return yards and finished with 198 total yards. Manley completed just nine-of-22 passes but averaged nearly 28 yards per completion for 250 yards and two scores. His 62-yard strike to sophomore Jordan Smith (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) early in the second quarter opened a 21-7 edge.

Mann, Division III’s third-leading rusher, carried 36 times for 216 yards and two second-half touchdowns. His first score, from 13 yards out, capped a five-play drive set up by a Rod Smith interception that got Ferrum to within two. Mann caught a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Zack Clifford (Salem, Va./Glenvar) that tied the game for the first time with 5:57 left in the third.

Both teams missed potential go-ahead field goals as they traded scoreless possessions into the fourth quarter. The Quakers failed to get their effort off the ground due to a high snap and the Panthers’ 40-yard attempt missed wide left with 9:15 remaining in regulation.

Guilford took over on its own 23, was backed down to its own seven by penalties, and later punted. A roughing-the-kicker penalty extended the drive and two plays later Manley connected with Johnson, who deftly sprinted through the secondary with the go-ahead score. Ammar Algburi added the extra point. Johnson finished with three catches for 93 yards, both game highs.

The Quakers’ Bryce Smith made a game-high 14 tackles and Jeremiah Hedrick added 13 stops. He also had a brilliant interception in the back of his own end zone to thwart a Ferrum scoring opportunity. Teammates J.T. Carmichael, Gerard Seals (Charlotte, N.C./Berry Academy), and Simmons each made eight tackles. Carmichael and Zach Lassiter both had two of the Quakers’ five sacks. Simmons also recovered and forced a fumble.

Ferrum’s Roshun Patterson (Richmond, Va./Thomas Jefferson) paced the Panthers with eight tackles. Brandon Scott broke up two passes and stopped a Quakers’ drive with a fourth-down interception at his own 19. Smith also forced a fumble in addition to his interception.

Coach Chris Rusiewicz’s Quakers visit league-rival Hampden-Sydney College October 21 at 1:00 p.m.