WINGATE, N.C. – Mars Hill fell at Wingate 42-39 Saturday afternoon at Irwin Belk Stadium. The Lions fell to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the league. The Bulldogs improved to 8-2 on the season, 5-1 in the SAC.
Wingate struck first offensively on a 15-yard touchdown reception by Jordan Berry to take an early 7-0 advantage at the 10:00 mark in the first quarter.
Mars Hill answered quickly on the next possession with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Austin Brown to Craig Rucker to knot the contest up at 7-7 with 7:12 left in the first quarter. A 26-yard field goal by MHU place kicker Tyler Stewart gave the Lions their first lead of the contest at 10-7 with 2:30 remaining in the first.
The Bulldogs posted the first points of the second quarter thanks to a 67-yard touchdown play from Johnson to Berry to regain the 14-10 advantage at the 12:16 mark. Keshaun Taylor then returned the ensuing kick-off 97 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions a 17-14 lead with 11:59 to go in the second stanza.
Both teams traded touchdowns as the Lions maintained the narrow 24-21 lead with 4:02 remaining in the first half of play. Mars Hill held the three-point advantage going into the halftime intermission.
The Wingate offense scored 21 unanswered points to break the game open and jump out to a commanding 42-24 advantage. The Bulldogs began the third quarter with a nine-yard rushing touchdown from Blake Hayes to give the home team a 28-24 lead at the 11:06 mark.
Joe Wallace hauled in his second touchdown reception of the contest on a 70-yard catch-and-run to extend the WU advantage to 35-24 with 3:48 left in the third quarter. Berry then made a grab for his third touchdown catch of the day on a 45-yard strike from Johnson to make it a 42-24 ballgame with 3:38 remaining in the third.
Mars Hill fought back in the fourth quarter with back-to-back touchdown scores to trim the deficit down to 42-39 with 3:47 remaining in the contest. However, the Bulldogs would hold on for the huge victory.
Hayes finished with 198 rushing yards on 33 carries to lead the Bulldog offensive attack. Jordan Berry had nine receptions for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
Craig Rucker led the Lion offense with six receptions for 101 yards and two scores. Taylor also put together a big-time performance with 110 total receiving yards on five catches with one touchdown. The MHU running back duo of senior and freshman running backs Jamel Harbison and Malik Prescott combined for 100 yards on 22 carries and one rushing touchdown from Harbison.
On the Wingate defense, Zack Singleton led the unit with 12 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and one quarterback hurry. Cameron Mattison and Sha'mond Squires each had six total stops to finish second on the WU defensive charts.
Mars Hill will play their final regular season contest at home against SAC rival Brevard on Senior Day in the Ammons Family Athletic Center and Meares Stadium. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m.