ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. –On a day that three past Bishop Football Heroes were inducted into the NC Wesleyan College Athletic Hall of Fame, the 2018 Wesleyan Football team would put on an exciting show in their own right.
The Bishops won their season opener in dramatic fashion 35-28 over non-conference foe Thomas More College (Ky.) at Rocky Mount Athletic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With the game tied at 28 apiece and under a minute to play in the fourth quarter, the Battling Bishop offense, led by senior captain QB Nate Gardner, would go on to clinch the game with an exciting 46 yard pass to senior wide receiver Trey Lancaster with just 46 seconds to play. The Bishop defense would then narrowly hold off the Saints as their "Hail Mary" pass was caught out of bounds with 2 seconds to play.
NCWC was led by a career day from Lancaster as he caught 11 passes from Gardner for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns while Gardner threw for 338 yards
"Every win is a big win, but this one stands out in a big way coming out of preseason camp," said Head Coach Jeff Filkovski.
"Our guys worked hard through the off-season and over the summer to prepare for today. We were not perfect by any means, but in the end we stood tall and made enough plays to ensure the win. I am excited about where we are headed," said Coach Filkovski.
NCWC got out to a terrific start vs the Saints running out to a comfortable 21-0 lead through a quarter and a half behind three touchdown passes from Gardner. The first was a 14 yard bullet to junior tight end Ben Dorfman which capped an 80 yard drive. Lancaster then scored his first of the day, a 31 yard catch and run from Gardner near the end of the first quarter.
Wesleyan then increased their lead to three scores as sophomore WR Dupre Falls caught a 13 yard pass from Gardner midway through the second. Thomas More then got on the board near the end of the first half to trim NCW's lead down to 14 at the break.
After TMC would add another score in the third quarter to get within 7, the Battling Bishops would then come right back with a score of their own. Gardner would run one in himself this time from five yards out to increase their lead back to 14 with 6 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Thomas More would rally for two more scores of their own to tie the game at 28 with under 3 minutes to play in the game before Gardner hit Lancaster with the stellar game-winning touchdown pass to cap off his five TD day.
Also leading the offense was Dorfman with 4 catches for 72 yards and a TD while sophomore RB Jeffery Black ran for 108 yards. The Bishop offense would outgain the Saints 497-435 in total yards and passing yards by outscoring them 338-238.
Leading the way defensively for the Bishops was junior cornerback and captain Eddie Graham with 7 tackles and 2 pass breakups while junior safety Christian Shaw had 6 tackles. Fellow junior captain, linebacker Antonio Johnson also added a sack, a tackle-for-loss and a forced fumble on the day.
"Right now we will clean up our mistakes this week and start our preparation for Shenandoah," said Coach Filkovski.
NCWC (1-0), coming off their first season-opening win in a number of years, will now head on the road to Virginia for the next two weeks to finish out non-conference play first starting with a trip to former conference foe Shenandoah University (1-0) next Saturday at 7:00 PM.