LEXINGTON, Va. – The Washington and Lee defense held Hampden-Sydney on downs with 5.8 seconds after stopping four plays from inside the 7-yardline to produce a 35-28 win over the Tigers on Saturday at Everett Stadium.
The win improved W&L to 5-0 overall for the first time since the 1961 season. The Generals are also 2-0 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
W&L took a 35-28 lead with 2:09 left in the game on a 20-yard touchdown run by junior running back Connor Chess (Fairfax, Va. / Flint Hill) that capped an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive. The key play in the winning drive was a 40-yard pass from junior quarterback Charlie Nelson (Redding, Conn. / St. Luke's) to sophomore wide receiver Josh Malm (Scottsville, Va. / Monticello) on a 3rd-and-10 from the W&L 20-yardline.
The Tigers took little time in driving back down the field, moving 68 yards on six plays for a 1st-and-goal from the W&L 7-yardline with just over a minute remaining. H-SC ran first-year running back Kyree Koonce four times in an attempt to tie the game. He moved to the 4-yardline on first down and then to the 1-yardline on second down. On third down, Koonce bounced the play outside and looked to have the sideline open when W&L first-year defensive back Thomas Freeland (Franklin, Tenn. / Ensworth) spun him down on the 1-yardline. Following a timeout with 12 seconds left, the Generals' interior line stuffed Koonce on fourth down with 5.8 seconds left to hold on for the win.
The Generals jumped out to a 14-0 lead just 8:38 into the game after forcing Hampden-Sydney turnovers on its first two possessions. Sophomore cornerback Grey Reames (Nashville, Tenn. / Montgomery Bell) intercepted H-SC junior quarterback Edgar Moore at the W&L 23-yardline and returned it 69 yards to the Tiger 8-yardline. Junior running back Marshall Hollerith (Richmond, Va. / St. Christopher's) scored one play later for a 7-0 lead at the 11:24 mark.
Senior linebacker Jake Barr (Upper Saddle River, N.J. / Northern Highlands) then forced a Koonce fumble on the next drive, which Freeland recovered at the W&L 32-yardline and advance to the 39. The Generals then drove 61 yards on 7-plays as Chess scored on a 6-yard run for a 14-0 lead at the 6:22 mark.
The Tigers quickly tied it at 14-14 with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Moore to senior wide receiver Austin Perryman at the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter and on a 16-yard strike from Moore to sophomore wide receiver Cam Johnson at the 12:02 mark of the second period.
W&L took the lead back with an 8-play, 60-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Walker Brand (Roanoke, Va. / Hidden Valley) with 4:52 left in the half. The Generals' defense held twice thereafter and W&L carried a 21-14 lead into the break.
The Blue & White opened the third period with another long drive, this time a 10-play, 65-yarder than was finished off with a 9-yard touchdown run from Hollerith that gave W&L a 28-14 lead with 10:27 left in the penultimate quarter.
However, just like the first half, the lead was short-lived as Hampden-Sydney scored with 5:49 left in the third quarter on a 21-yard touchdown reception by Johnson. Koonce then scored on a 23-yard run with 11:13 left to set up a wild final 10 minutes of play.
Chess followed the Koonce scoring run with what appeared to be a 76-yard touchdown run on the first play of the next series. However, the Generals were called for a clip at the H-SC 14-yardline, backing W&L up to the HSC 24-yardline. Three plays later from the 18-yardline, Nelson stumbled on a dropback and was sacked at the 37-yardline, taking the Generals out of field goal range.
W&L held on the ensuing possession, but Hollerith fumbled on the first play of the Generals' next series and the Tigers drove to the W&L 13-yardline before stalling out. First-year placekicker Liam Hedge then missed a 30-yard field goal, setting up W&L's game-winning drive.
The Generals racked up 396 yards of total offense led by Chess, who rushed six times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Brand carried 16 times for 87 yards and a score, while Hollerith rushed 17 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Nelson finished with 58 yards on 15 carries and he completed 2-of-3 passes for 63 yards. Freeland led the defense with 13 tackles and the fumble recovery.
Hampden-Sydney gained 506 yards paced by Moore, who completed 28-of-44 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Koonce rushed 35 times for 160 yards and a touchdown, while Johnson snared 11 balls for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Senior defensive back Larry Haskins amassed a game-high 14 tackles.
Washington and Lee returns to action on Saturday when it travels to Randolph-Macon for a 1:00 pm contest.