BRIDGEWATER, Va. – For the third week in a row, Bridgewater Eagles football team used a special teams score to en route to victory, this time a 35-24 win over the Ferrum Panthers.
Bridgewater's offense fired on all cylinders while the Eagles defense was yet again up to the task, holding Ferrum to their lowest rushing output in nearly eight years.
Wide receiver Tyler Beiler turned in a 212-yard performance on the receiving end to break the career receiving yardage record, formerly held by Marcus Richardson. Beiler now has 2,051 yards in his career, becoming just the second Bridgewater receiver to cross the 2,000-yard barrier.
Ferrum struck first in the middle of the opening quarter on a 25-yard dash from Justin Donnelly to put the Panthers ahead 7-0.
Bridgewater answered on the ensuing drive when quarterback Hagan Driskell caught Beiler on a 57-yard route to tie the score at seven apiece.
With 1:54 to play in the opening frame, the Panthers took 10-7 lead with a 29-yard Scott Puschell field goal, but it was the last time the Panthers would lead.
At the 8:39 mark, Driskell caught Beiler on a 58-yard pitch and catch to put the Eagles up by a 14-10 tally.
During Ferrum's ensuing drive, the Eagles defense forced a Panthers punt following a three and out. On the punt, junior Chris Wholey sprinted up the middle to block the T.J. Grzesikowski punt, which was recovered by senior Matt Jarvis who returned the ball 11 yards to the endzone to put Bridgewater ahead 21-10.
The punt block and return for a touchdown was the third special teams score of the year for the Eagles.
Bridgewater forced another three and out from the Panthers before notching another touchdown before the intermission. Driskell connected with Beiler yet again, this time on a 38 yard exchange, to put the Eagles ahead 28-10 at the break.
Following the intermission, a lethargic Bridgewater offense was forced into a pair of three and outs before the Panthers chipped the Eagles' lead to a 28-17 margin off of a Marcus Mayo 76 yard punt return.
Ferrum brought the game to a one-touchdown affair when Mayo connected with Roger Smith on a 33-yard route to bring the Eagles lead to a 28-24 score as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
With 9:44 to play in the game, Driskell tossed his fourth touchdown of the game, this time to senior Keenan Tillar to put Bridgewater ahead 35-24.
Ferrum's next drive went three and out before the Bridgewater offense chewed up the final seven-plus minutes of the game to record a 35-24 victory over the visiting Panthers.
On the ground, Tate's 112-yard afternoon led the way. Bridgewater rushed for 128 yards on 41 carries in the win.
Driskell turned in an outstanding performance. The Ruther Glen, Va. native was 14-of-21 for 299 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to go along with no interceptions. Driskell's four touchdown passes puts him in sole possession of fourth on the career touchdown passes list. His four touchdowns in a game is the most since Jeff Highfill's four-touchdown game against Guilford in 2007.
Beiler's 212-yard performance was the second time against the Panthers that the Lancaster, Pa. native has posted a 200-yard game. The senior hauled in seven catches, with three of the receptions being for a touchdown.
His seven receptions puts him in third place all-time with 107 career catches, while his three touchdowns moves him into a tie for third on career receiving touchdowns list.
On the day, Beiler posted 304 all-purpose yards, including 34 yards of punt returns and 54 yards of kickoff returns.
Defensively, seniors T.J. Montague and Darrin Stephenson led the way with eight stops a piece. Junior Stephen Howard also had a standout day with two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
As a unit, the Bridgewater defense held Ferrum to 66 yards on the ground marking the first time since November, 9 2002 that the Panthers were held to less than 100 yards rushing. The Eagles defense also held Ferrum to an abysmal 1-of-11 effort on third down.
Ferrum was led on the ground by Donnelly's 42 yards rushing.
Through the air, Mayo was a solid 9-of-18 for 153 yards and a touchdown.
On the receiving end, Smith had three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Bridgewater outgained Ferrum by a 427-to-219 tally, and also owned the time of possession battle by a 35:26-to-24:34 margin. Ferrum's 217-yard output marks the third straight game that the Bridgewater defense has held its opponent to under 250 yards of total offense.
Bridgewater has five days to prepare for Southern Virginia. The Eagles will do battle with the Knights in Salem, Va. on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. inside Salem Stadium.