Hampden-Sydney drops their football home opener 31-27

Published 11:38 pm Saturday, September 10, 2022

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HAMPDEN-SYDNEY – Fifth-year quarterback Tanner Bernard passed for a game-high 328 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another score, but Hampden-Sydney College dropped a 31-27 non-conference football decision to Widener (PA) University on Saturday.

Following a 14-14 tie at halftime, the host Tigers took a 27-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, before the visiting Pride rallied with two late touchdowns-including the game-winner on a 16-yard scoring pass from Jeff Chaplin to Jordan Baxter with just 37-seconds remaining-for their road win. H-SC is now 0-2 overall, while Widener improved to 1-1 overall.

H-SC scored on its first play of the contest when Bernard found sophomore wide receiver Austin Fernandez down the left side of the field for a 74-yard scoring play at 14:44. Senior placekicker Jack Breedlove added the first of his three PATs for the quick 7-0 lead.

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Widener answered back with a quick score of its own when Shawn Thompson scored on a one-yard run at 12:37, and Ryan Pattison added the first of his four PATs to tie it at 7-7. Thompson had a 60-yard run to the one to set things up for the tying score.

The Tigers responded before the quarter’s end as Bernard connected with senior tight end David Byler for a nine-yard scoring pass at 2:11 to finish a nine-play, 58-yard drive, and Breedlove’s PAT had the Garnet & Grey ahead 14-7. Key to the possession was a 21-yard completion from Bernard to Byler on third-and-six to begin the drive.

The Pride made it a 14-14 contest at the intermission behind a 22-yard touchdown run by Thompson at 3:53, with the PAT by Pattison.

Coming back from halftime

Widener took its first lead of the day at 17-14 on a 20-yard field goal by Pattison with 7:49 left in the third quarter.

H-SC followed with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bernard to Byler at 3:58 to complete an 11-play, 65-yard possession, but the PAT was blocked, and it was a 20-17 advantage. Key plays were a 14-yard completion from Bernard to Byler on third-and-seven, a 10-yard pass from Bernard to junior running back Josh Jones on third-and-eight, and a clutch 19-yard completion from Bernard to freshman wide receiver Mason Cunningham on fourth-and-10.

The Tigers scored again early in the fourth quarter when Bernard crossed the goal line from one-yard out at 14:29 to finish an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Breedlove’s PAT made it a 27-17 lead for the hosts. Key to the possession was a 43-yard pass play from Bernard to Fernandez.

Unfortunately, the Pride would score two late touchdowns to secure their road win … the first when Chaplin found Ty Holbert for a six-yard scoring pass with 5:30 on the clock, and the second and game-winning touchdown when Chaplin connected with Baxter on the 16-yard scoring pass with just 37-seconds left to play. Pattison had both PATs.

It was the second consecutive week that H-SC’s opponent has scored the winning touchdown with under a minute remaining to play.

Crunching the numbers

Bernard passed for his game-high 328 yards (20-40) and the three touchdowns with no interceptions for H-SC, adding 33 yards on the ground and a touchdown, as well. Junior running back Melik Frost rushed for 59 yards on 18 attempts, adding 49 yards receiving on four catches, and Jones added 19 yards on five carries along with 19 yards receiving on two catches. Fernandez had a game-high and career-high 134 yards receiving on a career-best five receptions and one touchdown, while Byler finished with 61 yards receiving on four catches and two touchdowns, and junior wide receiver Jamahdia Whitby equaled his career-high with 32 yards receiving on three receptions.

Junior safety James-Ryan Salvi finished with a game-high 12 tackles, including seven solo and five assists, to lead the Tigers on defense. Junior linebacker Dorian Green, junior safety Will Pickren and junior linebacker Tramell Thompson each finished with eight tackles-including a sack by Thompson and a half-tackle for loss each by Green and Pickren. Sophomore defensive end Jordan Akerson added six tackles along with two quarterback hurries.

Chaplin passed for 184 yards (19-32) and two touchdowns with no interceptions for Widener, adding 42 yards rushing on four carries. Thompson had a game-high 152 yards rushing on 27 attempts and two touchdowns. Tolbert had 47 yards receiving on four receptions and one touchdown, while Baxter added 21 yards receiving on two catches and one touchdown. Kevin Davis and Michael Schoenleber each finished with nine tackles for the Pride.

Up next for H-SC

H-SC remains at home to welcome Greensboro (NC) College in non-conference action on Saturday, September 17, at 1 p.m. at Everett Stadium. It’ll be Hall of Fame Weekend at the College.