GREENSBORO, N.C. – Following a lethargic first 27 minutes, the Bridgewater Eagles offense found its rhythm, scoring twice in 89 seconds to take a 21-13 halftime lead before rolling up 35 second half points to cruise past the Guilford Quakers by a 56-27 score at the Armfield Athletic Center. Senior Darrin McKenzie barreled for a career-high 219 yards in the victory.
The 56-point outpouring from the Eagles is the highest point total for a Bridgewater team since the 76 point effort against the Quakers in 2007.
Guilford (0-6, 0-2 ODAC) got on the board in a hurry, scoring on the first drive of the game on a five yard strike from quarterback Billy Watkins to receiver Ben King to put the Quakers ahead 7-0.
After a rough start for the Bridgewater offense in the first quarter, the Eagles capitalized on the short field caused by a Guilford muffed punt.
Bridgewater's drive looked to stall out at the three, before a Guilford penalty allowed the Eagles to go for it from the two. Starting quarterback Carlos Gonzalez (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Archbishop McCarthy) caught freshman fullback Nick Wimer (Grottoes, Va./Spotswood) out of the backfield on a two-yard strike to knot the game up at seven each with 11:18 to play in the opening frame.
Following the Bridgewater score, Guilford marched back down the field going 71 yards in five plays to regain the lead when Watkins connected with King on a 20-yard pitch and catch to put the Quakers back up by a 13-7 tally. Tyler Hull's PAT missed wide right to keep the score at a 13-7 margin with 9:54 to play in the second quarter.
Bridgewater's offense continued to struggle until a 45-yard connection from replacement quarterback Hagan Driskell (Ruther Glen, Va./Caroline) to senior Tyler Beiler (Ronks, Pa./Conestoga Valley) put the Eagles in scoring position at the Quakers three. Two plays later, Driskell put the ball in from a yard out on a quarterback keeper to put the Eagles ahead 14-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Guilford return man muffed the kick, giving Bridgewater excellent field position inside the Quakers red zone. On one leg, Driskell dashed to the two to set up a 19-yard Jordan Thacker (Hickory, N.C./Fred T. Foard) field goal. Thacker's attempt missed wide left to send the Eagles to a locker room with a 21-13 lead.
Bridgewater avoided disaster following a turnover on the opening kickoff as the Eagles defense forced a Guilford three and out to get the ball back with 14 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Eagles capitalized on the ensuing drive when senior Darrin McKenzie (Rustburg, Va./Brookville) barreled 49 yards to the Guilford nine before powering his way into the endzone two plays later to put the Eagles ahead 28-13.
Nine minutes later, Driskell connected with Beiler on a 19-yard strike to put the Eagles ahead 35-13 as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
With 13:43 to play in the game, sophomore Dwight Sweatt (Glen Allen, Va./Patrick Henry) barreled into the endzone from seven yards out to put the Eagles up 42-13.
Guilford responded on the ensuing kickoff on an 84 yard kickoff return from the feet of Jordan Nelson to bridge the gap to a 42-19 Bridgewater lead, after the Quakers two-point conversion attempt failed.
Less than three minutes later, Gonzalez tossed his second touchdown pass of the day, this time a 34-yard connection with Julius Delbridge (Virginia Beach, Va./Tallwood) to put the Eagles ahead by a 49-19 tally.
Guilford responded one more time on Watkins' third touchdown pass of the day to cut the Eagles lead to a 49-27 gap.
The Eagles struck last with Sweatt again rumbling in from seven yards out to finalize the scoring at a 56-27 tally.
After 60 minutes of play, the two teams racked up 879 yards of total offense between them, with the Eagles rolling up 508 yards of offense on the Quakers. The 500-plus yard performance from the Eagles is the highest offensive output since last season's victory at Emory & Henry.
Through the air, Bridgewater was led by Driskell's 7-of-16 performance for 118 yards and a score. Gonzalez was also solid, completing 7-of-13 passes for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On the ground, McKenzie's 219-yard afternoon was the 15th-best single game performance in school history. McKenzie's output was the highest for a Bridgewater tailback since Davon Cruz's 228 yard performance in the 2000 playoffs against Washington and Jefferson. The Rustburg, Va. native also jaunted for a pair of touchdowns in the win.
On the receiving end, Beiler led the way with five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. With his five catches, Beiler moves into second place on the career receptions list, while his touchdown grab moves him into the top spot on the career receiving touchdowns list with 23. His 106 yard game also marked his fourth straight game with over 100 yards receiving.
Defensively, senior T.J. Montague (Reston, Va./South Lakes) led the way with seven tackles. Dominic Jeter (Yorktown, Va./Tabb) picked up a sack on the afternoon for the Eagles to move into fourth place on the single season sacks list with his eighth sack of the season.
Guilford was led on the ground by Ray Brown's 22 yard afternoon. The Quakers rushed for just 23 yards on the day, marking the sixth straight game that the Eagles haven't allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards. Guilford rushed for 44 yards in the first half, but the Eagles rushing defense held strong, holding the Quakers to -17 yards on the ground in the second half.
Through the air, quarterback Billy Watkins was impressive, completing 25 of 47 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
On the receiving end, redshirt-sophomore Ben King hauled in 15 catches for a Guilford record 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns. King's 251 yard game is the fourth-highest single game total in ODAC history.
Defensively, Jordan Nelson led the way for the Quakers with a game-high 11 tackles, including eight solo stops.
Bridgewater's red-zone woes came to a halt as the Eagles scored on 7-of-9 red zone attempts.
Bridgewater is back in action on Saturday against Washington and Lee in the first of a two-game homestand at Jopson field. Kickoff against the Generals is slated for a 1:00 p.m. start.