College Football Final – Guilford 40, Washington and Lee 3

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Senior running back De’Eric Bell (Jackson, Ga./Jackson) rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns in Guilford College’s 40-3 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football victory over visiting Washington and Lee University Saturday. The result marked Guilford’s fewest points allowed in a game since 2016 and the fewest given up to the Generals since a 28-0 shutout in 1968.

The Quakers’ (3-4, 2-3 ODAC) defense forced four turnovers and limited Washington and Lee’s (5-2, 3-2 ODAC) vaunted rushing attack to 158 rushing yards, well off their season average of 309 that ranked fifth in NCAA Division III entering the game. All-America running back Josh Breece managed a career-low 19 rushing yards on 21 carries, just the fourth sub-100 yard game in the sophomore’s illustrious 18-game career.

Bell set the tone early by returning the game’s opening kickoff 46 to the Generals’ 44-yard line. Guilford converted three third downs on its opening drive, which Bell finished off with a one-yard scoring run. Later in the quarter he broke free up the middle on a fourth-and-one play from Washington and Lee’s 42-yard line and reached the end zone to give the Quakers a 14-0 advantage. Sophomore quarterback Alex Manley (Pfafftown, N.C./West Stokes (Emory & Henry)) scored on a two-yard keeper set up by a Cam Rozier fumble recovery that gave the hosts a 21-0 edge.

While Quakers’ offense kept Washington and Lee off balance with a mix of Bell’s running and Manley’s short passing, the Generals’ potent ground game struggled against Guilford’s defense. The Quakers crowded the box with linemen and linebackers daring Washington and Lee to pass. Generals’ quarterbacks Drew Richardson and Trey Laughlin could not find openings and combined to complete one of 11 pass attempts for 20 yards. Guilford’s Jeremiah Hedrick (Sedalia, N.C./Southern Guilford) picked off Laughlin in the third quarter for his team-leading third interception, which resulted in Bell’s third score, a two-yard plunge that opened a 34-0 lead.

Washington and Lee’s Alex Cantrell blocked a Quakers’ punt early in the fourth quarter and teammate Kurt Waibel recovered in on Guilford’s 12-yard line, which set up the Generals’ lone points of the game, a 28-yard field goal by Jarrett Wright.

The Quakers quickly answered as senior quarterbacks Joe Ferrick and Taylor Kickler guided Guilford downfield on a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive capped by Kickler’s first career touchdown toss, a 20-yard completion to fellow senior receiver Desmond Marshall.

Bell became the fifth Quaker to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season with his sixth 100-yard game of 2018. He tied David Heggie’s ’98 school record for career 100-yard rushing games (18) and moved into fourth place on the team’s single-season rushing list with 1,049 yards, the most by a Quaker since Heggie’s 1,207 yards in 1994. Bell amassed 202 all-purpose yards and moved into eighth place among NCAA Division III career leaders (7,856). He also assumed into second place on the ODAC’s career scoring chart with 360 points.

Guilford’s Manley completed a season-high 67 percent (23-34) of his passes and threw for 265 yards, 61 on a nice sideline route to Jordan Smith (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) that went for a third-quarter touchdown. Manley also rushed for 45 yards and a score. Marshall and sophomore receiver Juwan Houston were favorite targets as both had five catches.

Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Bryce Smith’s (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) game-high 14 tackles led the Quakers’ best defensive effort of the season. He also forced and recovered a fumble. Sophomore linebacker Gerard Seals (Charlotte, N.C./Berry Academy) had two tackles for loss among his 10 stops and also forced a fumble. Hedrick added nine tackles and his forced fumble to his interception.

Coach Chris Rusiewicz’s Quakers visit league-rival Shenandoah University Saturday (11/3) at 1:00 p.m.