WINGATE, N.C. – Mars Hill's football team lost on the road at SAC foe Wingate, 58-21. The Lions fell to 2-6 overall and 2-4 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bulldogs improved to 5-3 on the season, 2-2 in league play.
Turnovers plagued the Lions as they lost two fumbles and threw three interceptions. Christopher Roberts rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries and one score. Austin Brown threw for 141 yards completing 14-23 passes. Craig Rucker caught seven passes for 98 yards while Clarenton Cowart had 47 yards receiving on three catches and one touchdown. James Urzua came off the bench to throw for 76 yards completing 3-6 passes. Carl Robertgeau led both teams with 12 tackles followed by Jacari Williams with 10 stops. Tray Smith added nine tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
Shaw Crocker threw for 223 yards and two scores completing 13-15 passes. Malik Bledsoe was on the receiving end of five of those passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Nijere Peoples rushed for 166 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns. Cardell Rawlings led Wingate with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and a recovered fumble. Joe Kelly followed with eight tackles and an interception.
Christopher Roberts scored the first points of the game on a 11-yard rush to cap off a six-play, 26-yard drive on the Lions' first possession (12:17) of the contest. Wingate answered tying the contest at 7-all after J.T. Stokes found the end zone on a 13-yard rush with 10:36 left in the first period.
After a bad snap on a Lions' punt, the Bulldogs scored a safety to lead 9-7 with 8:35 left in the first quarter. Shaw Crocker found Malik Bledsoe for a 25-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession to extend Wingate's lead to 16-7 with 6:24 left in the opening quarter. Austin Brown found Clarenton Cowart on a one-yard pass to trim the Bulldogs lead to just two points (16-14) at the 6:49 mark of the first quarter. Crocker then hit Stokes on a 17-yard pass play to give the Bulldogs a 22-14 advantage with 19 seconds left in the first frame.
A Mars Hill interception led to a one-yard touchdown dive by Nijere Peoples with 11:22 left in the second quarter (30-14). Peoples would score again three minutes later (8:11) on a two-yard scamper to give Wingate a 37-14 lead. Crocker scored on an 11-yard run with 5:59 left in the half to send the teams into the locker room at the intermission with the Lions trailing 44-14.
Ronnie Procopio scored the only points in the third quarter from eight yards out (1:33) to give Wingate a 51-14 lead heading into the final quarter of play. James Urzua hit Roberts on a seven-yard touchdown strike with 14:51 left in the fourth quarter to give the Lions their third score of the game (51-21). Procopio ended the scoring in the contest with 10:58 left in regulation on a nine-yard rush to make the final tally 58-21 in favor of the hosts.
Mars Hill is open next week and will return to action on November 3, to face UNC Pembroke.