Hampden-Sydney falls short in Gentlemen’s Classic, losing 29-28

Published 8:39 pm Saturday, September 2, 2023

It went down to the final minutes, with one play deciding the game. The Tigers fought hard, but Hampden-Sydney College (0-1) fell just short, dropping a heartbreaking 29-28 non-conference football game at home to Wabash (IN) College. 

“The Gentlemen’s Classic” was tied at 14-14 at halftime, and the visiting Little Giants (1-0) led 21-14 after three quarters. Then Tigers quarterback Carter Sido led a comeback, driving for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and taking the lead 28-21 with 4:23 remaining. But the Hampden-Sydney defense just couldn’t hold, with Liam Thompson connecting with Derek Allen Jr. for a 16-yard touchdown pass, then Thompson caught a two-point conversion from Jacob Riddle to seal the win for Wabash. 

How it happened for Hampden-Sydney

The Tigers took possession after the opening kickoff and scored quickly when Sido broke loose on a third-and-one, running 46 yards down the middle of the field to the end zone at 13:03 of the first quarter. Sophomore placekicker Elijah Swett added the PAT kick and Hampden-Sydney led 7-0. It was a five-play, 72-yard drive and included a pair of pass completions from Sido to sophomore wide receiver Mason Cunningham covering 24 yards.

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Wabash took its first possession and drove 58 yards on nine plays before senior All-American safety Will Pickren ended the threat with an interception in the end zone. It remained a 7-0 advantage after 15 minutes.

The Little Giants got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Thompson found Cooper Sullivan for a three-yard touchdown pass, and Brody Rucker added the PAT kick to tie the contest at 7-7 with 13:29 on the clock.

The Tigers answered back with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Sido to junior tight end Sutton Lasso at 5:11 of the second quarter. The PAT by Swett made it a 14-7 lead after the four-play, 81-yard drive that included a 28-yard run by Sido and a 36-yard pass completion from Sido to Lasso-the TD reception by Lasso was his first collegiate scoring reception.

Wabash responded with a five-yard touchdown run by Donovan Snyder with just 29-seconds left in the half, and the Rucker PAT had the contest tied at 14-14 at the intermission.

The Little Giants scored the only points of the third quarter when Thompson made it to the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown run at 10:58. The PAT by Rucker made it a 21-14 advantage after three quarters.

Facing challenges in the fourth

H-SC got back on track in the fourth quarter with Sido scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run with 10:17 remaining, and the PAT by Swett tied it at 21-21. It was an 11-play, 68-yard drive that featured 20 yards on four rushes by senior running back Melik Frost, along with a 24-yard run by Sido.

The Tigers got the ball right back after the defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense promptly drove 64 yards on 12 plays with Sido once-again scoring-this time on a one-yard touchdown run at 4:23 of the fourth quarter-his third rushing touchdown of the game. Swett added his fourth PAT and the Garnet & Grey led 28-21 late in the contest. The possession included 11 yards rushing by Frost and 19 yards on the ground by Sido, who also completed a crucial third down pass to junior wide receiver Austin Fernandez for nine yards on third-and-five.

The Tigers’ defense again forced Wabash to punt on its next possession, but the hosts turned the ball over on their first play with a forced fumble and recovery by the Little Giants, who gained possession at the H-SC 33.

Wabash took just three plays to score as Thompson found Allen for the 16-yard pass play to the end zone at 2:02. The Little Giants decided to go for two points, and were successful on their trick-play with Thompson on the receiving end of the conversion pass from Riddle to provide for the final 29-28 margin … after the Tigers turned the ball back over on downs and the visitors were able to run out the clock.

Hampden-Sydney, by the numbers 

Sido rushed for a game-high and career-high 184 yards and three touchdowns in his first collegiate start for the Tigers. He added a career-high 153 yards passing and one touchdown. 

Sido rushed for his game-high and career-high 184 yards on 20 attempts and his career-high three touchdowns in his first collegiate start for H-SC, passing for a career-high 153 yards (15-23-0) and one touchdown with no interceptions. Frost rushed for 63 yards on 20 attempts, adding 23 yards receiving on four receptions. Lasso had a career-high 58 yards receiving on a career-high three receptions and one touchdown, the first of his career, while Cunningham finished with 48 yards receiving on five receptions.

Senior linebacker Dorian Green finished with 10 tackles to lead the Tigers on defense. Pickren and fellow senior safety James-Ryan Salvi each had nine tackles-Pickren adding his interception and 0.5 tackles for loss, while senior defensive tackle Kevin Gholson added eight tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Senior cornerback Tobias Lafayette had six tackles, adding three pass breakups.

Playing against a Manning Award candidate

Thompson, one of 30 collegiate quarterbacks nationwide selected to the Manning Award preseason watch list, passed for a game-high 218 yards (17-27-1) and two touchdowns with one interception for Wabash, adding 65 yards rushing on 11 attempts and one touchdown. Snyder had 99 yards rushing on 22 attempts and one touchdown. Allen had a game-high 88 yards receiving on seven receptions and one touchdowns, while Sullivan had 74 yards receiving on four receptions and one touchdown. Jake Pasch and Gavin Ruppert each finished with a game-high 11 tackles for the Little Giants-Pasch also forcing and recovering a decisive fumble late in the game.

Wabash continues to lead The Gentlemen’s Classic, 4-0.