LaGrange, Ga. - N.C. Wesleyan's football team scored a season-high 44 points on Saturday afternoon, but the Bishops would come out on the short end of a league shootout with LaGrange College, 51-44. Sophomore Deandre Gillis paced Wesleyan's offense with 136 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Trey Lancaster grabbed seven receptions for 187 yards and two scores.
The Bishops got on the board first, taking the opening kickoff 73 yards in eight plays for a quick 7-0 lead. Senior Brandon Leake did the honors with a 25-yard TD catch from junior Nate Gardner. LaGrange, however, countered with 16 unanswered points to go up 16-7 early in the second quarter, but NCWC junior Adrian Minondo pulled the Bishops back to within a score with a 6-yard scoring rush.
Panther QB Connor Blair proceeded to toss his third touchdown of the half on LaGrange's ensuing possession, while a 22-yard field goal by Bishop senior Codan Breckenridge would make the score 23-17 LaGrange at intermission.
LC extended its lead to 37-17 with a pair of touchdowns after the break, but 11- and 46-yard scoring runs by Gillis late in the third and early in the fourth pulled Wesleyan back to within a score, 37-31, with 14:45 to go. The two teams then traded the next four scores, with Wesleyan's Lancaster hauling in a 26-yard scoring strike from Gardner and later an 11-yard toss from sophomore Donielle Totten.
Down 51-44 with 1:10 to go, the Bishop defense got the stop it needed to give NCWC a chance. Totten's 10-yard completion to freshman Dupre Falls was followed by a 25-yard run into LaGrange territory, but a critical fumble was recovered by LaGrange at their own 45, allowing the Panthers to run out the clock on their third win.
Blair finished 32-of-49 for 477 yards and six touchdowns through the air. For the Bishops, Gardner and Totten combined to go 15-of-28 for 264 yard and a trio of TDs. Defensively, Wesleyan's Antonio Johnson continued his stellar play with a game-high 14 tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack.
Wesleyan (1-5, 1-3 USA South) returns home next Saturday to host Greensboro College. Kickoff is slated for 1:00pm at Rocky Mount Athletic Stadium and the Bishops will be honoring Scout Day by offerering area boy and girl scout troops free admission.