Wingate, N.C.----The Wingate University football team won the first night game in Irwin Belk Stadium and John R. Martin Field history, surviving for a 31-27 triumph over Carson-Newman University Saturday. The Bulldogs scored 14 points off turnovers, while WU return specialist BJ Muckelvene opened the scoring with a 63-yard punt return.
Score: Wingate 31, Carson-Newman 27
Records: Wingate (3-0, 1-0 SAC), Carson-Newman (2-1, 0-1 SAC)
Location: Irwin Belk Stadium and John R. Martin Field, Wingate, N.C.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
-Wingate's BJ Mucklevene broke the 100-yard barrier for all-purpose yards (for the third time this season) with 126 markers. He returned three punts for 96 yards.
-Lawrence Pittman led the 'Dogs with 22 rushes for 83 yards and one score.
-Carson-Newman running back Jared Dillingham had 21 carries for 98 yards and one TD.
-Both quarterbacks (Derrick Evans for C-N and James Whitaker for WU) threw two touchdown passes.
-Wingate defensive lineman Auntrell Mack had 13 tackles and two forced fumbles.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Wingate University started out the scoring with BJ Muckelvene returning a punt 63 yards for a touchdown (his second of the season including his punt return at JCSU). Later, Carson-Newman responded with a 38-yard TD catch by Dorren Miller from Derrick Evans. Wingate place kicker Freddy McCollum finished the first quarter scoring with a 34-yard field goal to give the hosts a 10-7 lead.
Jay Hood caught a seven-yard TD pass from James Whitaker to give the hosts a 17-7 edge. Carson-Newman finished the second quarter on a 17-0 run to take a 24-17 lead to the halftime locker room. Jared Dillingham scored from three yards out, while Miller continued to pile up the receiving yardage with a 70-yard catch-and-run pass from Evans. Eagle place kicker Elijah Holbert nailed a 40-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer.
Wingate scored on back-to-back possessions to take the lead for good. Six minutes into the third quarter, Lawrence Pittman scored on a one-yard run to cap an eight-play drive. Carson-Newman fumbled five plays later. Whitaker made the Eagles pay, finding Bryan Mitchell for a seven-yard touchdown. Mitchell's flight over the goal line coupled with McCollum's PAT put the Bulldogs up 31-24 with 3:55 to play.
Carson-Newman's Hilbert completed a 12-play drive with a 21-yard field goal to bring the visitors within four with 4:47 remaining. The Eagles forced a punt to earn one more chance to collect the road victory. The Bulldogs bent, but did not break, stopping Carson-Newman on fourth down and three from the WU 45-yard line. Two victory formation plays later, Wingate collected the SAC triumph.
Wingate's fourth quarter defensive stand concluded an electric night for the Bulldogs.
-Carson-Newman had not given up a punt return for a TD in 163 games. Florida International went to the house with an Eagle punt in 2003.
-Carson-Newman outgained Wingate 434-260, but the Eagles gave away three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception), while the Bulldogs lost only one miscue (a fumble).
-Wingate Academic All-America punter Christopher Birozes put three boots inside the 20-yard line.
-The Bulldogs have won the last two meetings with the Eagles.
-Four different Wingate players scored touchdowns Saturday.
-Carson-Newman wide receiver Dorren Miller entered the game averaging an NCAA-best 53.3 yards per catch; he caught six passes for 151 yards and two scores against Wingate.
Wingate head coach Joe Reich: "We are an older team…we didn't panic. We hung in there and made the plays when we needed to make the plays. The fourth quarter defensive stop was huge. We made big plays on defense and blew plays on defense…the same on special teams. On offense, we made too many mistakes, but we made big plays when we needed them. All in all, this was a great team win."
Wingate will hit the road for its next SAC contest, journeying to Lenoir-Rhyne University for a 7 p.m. kick-off. Carson-Newman returns home to face SAC foe Newberry for a 1 p.m. start.
(Wingate sophomore Garren Janes contributed information to this article. A graduate of Piedmont High School, Janes is a Sport Management major at Wingate. He hails from Monroe, N.C.)