Rocky Mount, N.C. - Senior B.G. Howell made the most of his kicking debut on Saturday afternoon, connecting on a 40-yard field goal in overtime to secure a 16-13 Battling Bishop victory over Ohio Northern University in Rocky Mount. In a day of firsts, the field goal was the first of Howell's career, while the win marks the first time in the nine-year history of N.C. Wesleyan football that the Bishops have won their opener.
The story of the game was Wesleyan's defense as the Battling Bishops picked off four passes (two in the endzone) and created two turnovers on downs. ONU crossed midfield six times, but scored only twice.
After battling to a 13-13 tie late in the fourth quarter, the Polar Bears looked poised to win the game in regulation after driving deep into Bishop territory with less than two minutes remaining. NCWC's Gerald Wells, however, stopped Northern tailback Devian McKennie on a 4th-and-1 at the 19-yardline that led to the eventual overtime period.
Northern (0-1) took the ball first in overtime, but ONU quarterback Tyler Rue was intercepted in the endzone by sophomore Austin Arbuckle on a 3rd-and-11 play from the 15.
On Wesleyan's ensuing possession, a fumble and false start gave the Battling Bishops (1-0) a 3rd-and-18 at the ONU 33-yardlne, but senior QB John Jackson proceeded to hit freshman Te'Sean Glass with an 11-yard pass to set up Howell's heroics.
The Bishops had gotten on the board first, marching 72 yards in eight plays on its second possession, scoring on a 4-yard run by Jacques Alston with 5:50 left in the first period. Northern later answered with a 95-yard, 15-play drive that was capped by a 28-yard TD pass from Rue to senior Justin Wilson with 58 seconds left in the first half.
NCWC blocked the ensuing PAT to keep a slim 7-6 advantage, and the Bishops added to their lead on the last play of the half as freshman quarterback Laron Ellerbe hit Alston with a 4-yard TD pass as time expired. ONU blocked the PAT for 13-6 Wesleyan lead at the half.
The Bishops maintained their lead for majority of the third quarter only to see Rue sneek in from two yards out with 1:04 left in the period. The extra point knotted the score at 13-13, and neither team would put up points in the fourth.
Ellerbe completed 7-of-16 passes for 88 yards and ran 25 times for 89 yards to lead the Battling Bishop offense. Defensively, Ed Harrington tallied 13 tackles and Wesley Thompson added 12, while senior Sam Smith recorded a pair of interceptions.
Wesleyan returns to action next Saturday when the Bishops travel to Southern Virginia University. Kick-off is slate for 7:00pm.