MARS HILL, N.C. - The Mars Hill football team (5-6, 4-4 SAC) was defeated by a score of 64-34 versus Wingate (10-1, 7-1 SAC) Saturday afternoon.
Craig Rucker set another Mars Hill and South Atlantic Conference record in career receiving yards. The senior wide receiver racked up 14 receptions for 150 yards, ending his career with 4,320 yards. Jimmy Urzua threw for a career-high 434 yards and two touchdowns, completing 30-of-57 passes. Gilbert Johnson caught three passes, one for a touchdown and racked up 129 yards. Tyler Ferguson caught two passes on the day, one for a touchdown. Carl Robertgeau led Mars Hill with 10 tackles followed by Landon Honeycutt's nine.
Wingate entered the half trailing 22-16. The Bulldogs scored four times in the third quarter to carry a 44-28 lead into the final 15 minutes of play. Shaw Crocker threw for three touchdowns in the quarter while Raquan Simmons returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. The Lions lone score in the third came off a 23-yard pass from Urzua to Ferguson.
The Bulldogs added 20 more points in the fourth as Domineke McNeill ran for two scores and Nijere Peoples ran for another. Urzua opened the scoring in the final quarter with his second rushing touchdown on the day, a 16-yard scamper.
Mars Hill opened the contest with a bang. The first play from scrimmage saw Urzua connect with Johnson on a 75-yard touchdown pass. The Lion defense held firm on the following driving, stopping Wingate twice on the goal line and forcing the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal.
Tanner Fox responded with 5:09 left in the first with a 29-yard field goal of his own to regain the seven-point lead. Fox, less than a minute into the second, knocked home his second field goal of the day to put the Lions up by 10. At the 10:45 mark, McNeill busted open an 83-yard run for the first Bulldog touchdown of the afternoon.
The Lions reeled off nine straight points, including a safety and one-yard Urzua rushing score to go up 22-9 with 5:13 left in the half. With less than 10 seconds to play in the half, Crocker connected with Mason Flynt for a 14-yard touchdown pass to pull within six points after 30 minutes of play.
The teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense with the Bulldogs racking up 550 to the Lions 463.
Prior to the contest, 12 seniors were recognized on Senior Day. The players honored for their commitment and contributions to the program were Nigel Bowden, Avery Brumlow, Tyler Ferguson, Javon Harbison, Michael Foster, Travis James, Carl Robertgeau, Elijah Jett, Cameron Wrice, Aundreas Hill, DJ Morgan, and Craig Rucker.
Mars Hill ends the 2019 season with a 5-6 overall record, 4-4 in the SAC, tied for fourth in the league.