EMORY, Va. – The Emory & Henry College Football Team (8-1, 5-1 ODAC) kept its Old Dominion Athletic Conference title hopes alive with a 42-34 win over Shenandoah University (4-5, 2-4 ODAC) Saturday afternoon at Fred Selfe Stadium.
Emory & Henry took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards down the field in 1:24 to score its first touchdown, 7-0. Freshman running back Chris Thompson (Blue Ridge, Va.) capped the strike off with a 38-yard reception from freshman quarterback Kevin Saxton (Monroe, N.C.).
It appeared as if Shenandoah would tie the game up after its first possession, but the Wasps' defense held strong on fourth-and-one at the three yardline to get the ball back. Later in the quarter, senior safety Clint Peregoy (Salem, Va.) picked off a pass to stop the Hornets deep in E&H territory.
On first down, Thompson switched the field, rushing for 79 yards to put Emory & Henry within striking distance. Three rushes by senior running back Kasey Jones (Jacksonville, Fla.) later, the Wasps had a 14-0 lead with 2:50 to go in the first quarter.
Emory & Henry scored a pair of touchdowns early in the second period to go up 28-0. Saxton found junior tight end Ashton Cline (Gilbert, W.Va.) with a 10-yard pass for the first score and sneaked in from one yard out for the other score. The rushing touchdown was set up by a 24-yard interception return by senior safety Roth Healey (Easton, Pa.) that was just short of the goal line.
The Hornets got on the board, 28-7, with 22 seconds to go before the intermission on a nine-yard pass completion from Drew Ferguson to Cedrick Delaney. The score capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive that melted 4:07 off the clock.
On E&H's second possession of the second half, the Wasps got the ball just across midfield and went in to make the score 35-7. Saxton hit senior wideout Lucas Kirby (Covington, Va.) from 15 yards out for the score.
SU tallied a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to close the gap to 35-20. Delaney accounted for 56 yards on the first scoring drive, finding pay dirt with an 18-yard run. Ferguson turned to his feet, scrambling 12 yards for the Hornets' second score of the quarter.
On the first play of the final 15 minutes, Delaney rumbled 24 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game to make the score 35-27.
The Wasps pushed the margin to 42-27 on the next possession as they flew down the field 75 yards in just 86 seconds. Saxton made it a four-score day, finding senior wide receiver Josh Smith (Radford, Va.) for 14 yards and the score.
Shenandoah forced Emory & Henry to punt on its next possession and returned the favor of a blocked kick, recovering at the Wasps' 23. Delaney tallied his third rushing score of the game, this one a 23-yard run to close the gap to 42-34.
The remainder of the fourth quarter was spent with both teams attempting to put more points on the board. The eight-point margin would hold to keep Emory & Henry in a tie at the top of the league with Hampden-Sydney.
Emory & Henry gained 436 yards of total offense on 83 plays, holding the ball for just 23:04. The Wasps took advantage of seven turnovers by the Hornets in the victory. Saxton finished the day with282 yards on 25-for-50 passing and four touchdowns while rushing for a fifth. Thompson was just short of the 100-yard mark, running for 98 yards on 12 carries while freshman running back Isaiah Rodgers (Canton, Ga.) had 30 rushing yards and 41 receiving yards.
Kirby caught seven passes for 45 yards and a touchdown, moving into a tie for fifth in career receptions with 130. Smith had six receptions for 59 yards and a score while Cline led all players with 60 receiving yards on three catches.
Defensively for the Wasps, senior linebacker Paul Forney (Newton, N.C.) made 20 tackles while junior linebacker Rennel Marshall (Rustburg, Va.) made 18 stops and picked off a pair of passes. Healey finished the day with three interceptions, a fumble recovery and nine tackles while Peregoy added 10 tackles and an interception of his own. Junior corner Ryan Byrd (Grottoes, Va.) had 12 tackles and a pass breakup.
Shenandoah was led offensively by Delaney, who ran for 321 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries. It is the most yards that the Wasps have ever allowed a single player to rush for in a game. Delaney added two catches for 11 yards and a fourth score. Ferguson threw for 150 yards and a touchdown despite throwing six interceptions on the afternoon while running for 66 yards and a score of his own. Qlyl Meddelijn had for receptions for 43 yards.
Michael Messick paced the Hornets' defense with 11 tackles including 1.5 sacks for 12 yards. Josh White had five stops, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and three passes defended.
Emory & Henry will close out the regular season on Senior Day next Saturday when it hosts Guilford College at Fred Selfe Stadium. With an E&H win and a Hampden-Sydney loss, the Wasps will clinch the ODAC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III Playoffs. Kickoff between the Wasps and Quakers is set for 1:00 p.m.