Category Archives: Football

Wingate moves to 2-0 with win over Fayetteville State

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

Wingate jumped out to a 27-6 lead en route to a wire-to-wire 27-13 victory over Fayetteville State Saturday night at Irwin Belk Stadium. This is the fifth straight year the Bulldogs started a season 2-0.

“It was a good win. Fayetteville State was a much bigger, more physical team than what we faced last week. It was a step up in physicality, which will help us heading to next week’s game,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich says.

In his second career start, redshirt freshman quarterback Shaw Crocker connected on 19-of-33 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns, with his primary receiver being BJ Muckelvene, who caught seven passes for 122 yards and a TD. Crocker now has 5 touchdown passes through two games this season. “Shaw continues to take steps forward, both in practices and during games, which is good to see,” Reich says.

Joe Kelly led the Wingate defense with 13 tackles on the night. Cardell Rawlings also contributed with two sacks and Juan Pagan-Gonzalez had three tackles and an interception.

But perhaps the biggest factor in Wingate’s victory was the special teams. “Our punter was a difference maker,” Reich says. “He got us out of jams. The kicker did a nice job as well. It was also good to see Ronnie Procopio break off a big return.”

Chris Birozes averaged 44 yards on six punts, with a long of 55 and another punt downed at the two-yard line. McLean Robertson was two-for-two on field goals, connecting on a 31-yarder and 42-yarder while also going three-for-three in PATs. Procopio had a 48-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter.

Wingate is back in action next Saturday, hitting the road for the first time this season and opening league play, traveling to Carson-Newman for a 7 p.m. start.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Shaw Crocker excels as Bulldogs signal-caller in first collegiate start

Heath Barringer, Staff Writer

Irwin Belk Stadium was the scene for the Wingate Football team on Aug. 30 as they opened the 2018 season on a Thursday night. Fresh off a 9-2 record and a SAC Championship in 2017, the Bulldogs look to repeat this year with a new quarterback under center. Shaw Crocker, the redshirt freshman from Greenville, S.C. made his debut for the Bulldogs and made it a memorable one.  

Shaw is an education major with a focus on math education, and with that, it brings pretty tough calculus classes that he brought up when I had the chance sit down and chat with him before the game. He said, “Having my redshirt year really helped me get settled into college with classes and all and not having the pressure of playing right away so I could get right in the classroom to start off was nice.”  

He also attributed to how comfortable with the Bulldog offense he was compared to his redshirt year where he did not play by saying, “I looked at it as a chance to grow and grow closer with some of my teammates. Our quarterback room is pretty tight and having that year to get comfortable really helped.”  

Shaw had a great football mind before he came to Wingate and this comes from having a father who has been in high school coaching for 30 plus years. Both of his parents attended Newberry College where Crocker almost ended up attending himself before making the decision to bring his talents to Wingate.

He talked about some nerves before his first start like anyone would, but he also talked about knowing the team had his back and trusting in the system. He was just ready to have some fun and play ball. And on opening night for the Bulldogs, that is exactly what he did.  

After the game I had a chance to catch up with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Long for Wingate. He summed up what everyone was thinking by just saying, “I thought it went really well.”  

Crocker ended the night throwing for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14-22 from the pocket.  He also had a rushing touchdown on a nifty little keeper from the 2-yard line. He thanks his teammates for his performance and personally his center Hunter Jolly, who made his first career start as a redshirt freshman as well on Thursday.  

Jolly had confidence in his quarterback by saying, “I knew he was going to light it up before we ever stepped out on to the field.”  Crocker was happy with is first performance and I’m sure the rest of OneDog Nation was too.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Bulldogs start 2018 in dominant fashion, shutout Johnson C. Smith 36-0

Brendan Shriver, Sports Editor

In the first-ever Thursday night home football game at Irwin Belk Stadium, Wingate recorded 9 sacks and held the Johnson C. Smith University Golden Bulls to 123 yards in a 36-0 shutout.

“It was pretty cool to be part of the first Thursday night home game,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich said. “It was a good win and the defense played lights out. They played a great game and we are excited about what they did and we were hoping that would be the case.

The Bulldogs were up-and-down for much of the second half offensively after leading 10-0 at halftime.

In his first start, junior running back Domineke McNeill had 155 yards on 18 carries, including a 67-yard run. In his first appearance as a Bulldog, redshirt freshman quarterback Shaw Crocker went 14-for-22 with 201 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for a touchdown. Defensively, Davion Washington had a team-high eight tackles while Gabe Price got three tackles for loss and two sacks.

The Bulldogs are back in action Saturday, hosting Fayetteville State at 6 p.m.

Edited by Rachael Robinson and Brendan Shriver

Football to host seven home games this fall

Crystal Fuller, Staff Writer

Wingate University Athletics Director Steve Poston and Head Football Coach Joe Reich announced the 2018 Wingate Football schedule in March. For the first time since 2002, Wingate University’s football team will have the upperhand of playing seven home games.

Coach Reich explained how the Bulldogs got lucky, “When we look for games sometimes we take what we can get. Last year we had a bye week but we also played the first two games on the road so we only had four home games in the regular season. When the scheduled flipped we immediately had six home games,” said Reich.

Coach Reich also said that,“Florida Tech really needed a game and was willing to come up here and play us at home so that’s how we got to seven. Florida Tech is a top quality out-of-conference opponent who will be a great new challenge. We know UNC Pembroke will be tough as well.”

The Bulldogs have played six home games on eight occasions, the most recent being in 2016. The Bulldogs will play a senior college school-record seven home games, beginning with a Thursday, August 30 contest versus local rival Johnson C. Smith at Irwin Belk Stadium and John R. Martin Field (7 p.m. start time).

“We are looking forward to opening on a Thursday night,” said Reich. “This will be a nice change up…having seven home games will be a good thing for us as well.”

Wingate will see many benefits from the seven home games and has many plans in store. The Bulldogs will host their annual special events throughout the 2018 home schedule including Church Youth Day, Patriots’ Day and Tailgating for the Troops. These events will influence larger crowds just as last year when the Bulldogs sold-out the first night game to ever be hosted by Wingate.

“The best thing about having seven home games would be that we wouldn’t have to travel as much plus it will be more fun for the school,” said Domineke McNeill, a sophomore running back. “Hearing the crowd pushes us more to be more physical and make more plays but for the other team they tend to get scared and fold.”

General admission season tickets range from $40 for adults and $20 for non-Wingate students. Single game tickets are $12 for adult and $8 for non-Wingate students. For more ticket or schedule information go to www.wingatebulldogs.com. We hope you join us this year as we continue to make history!

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Bulldogs to sign 35 on National Signing Day

Wessli-Ann Hardee, Staff Writer

Around 35 student-athletes are expected to sign with the Wingate Football program on Wednesday, Feb. 7, according to Head Coach Joe Reich.

The Wingate football program has been searching for guys across the country throughout the year to, “Add quality depth at several positions,” said Reich.

In years’ past, the football program has heavily recruited and added quite a bit of numbers to their program. Last year, the recruiting class had about 60 guys. This year is a different story, with the number being nearly cut in half.

“We are trying to keep our numbers down a bit this year and be more selective,” said Reich.

The entire recruiting process weighs on several men’s shoulders. Different coaches on staff are assigned to certain regions to recruit future collegiate athletes.

“It’s fun and stressful and exciting and a grind and exhilarating and frustrating and all of the above,” Reich said. “But I think it is one of the things that keeps it fresh for us since every year is new and there are new sets of stories and challenges.

Many recruits come on official visits where they tour the campus, and meet some of the current athletes. One of the best things they do is a “player panel,” where they have seven players or so, that meet as a group with the families without any coaches, according to Reich.

Players then have the opportunity to stay for the weekend with a few current players, to get an even better taste of the college life.

“Current players are the key to our success,” says Reich. “The current team sells the program by the kind of people they are and how they act around one another.”

With a large graduating class, Reich is hoping that many of the athletes that sign will be able to fill some big roles, on and off the field. Currently the football team is in their spring training season and will begin spring practice soon.

“Things are rockin’, so it’s a great time to be a Wingate Bulldog!” said Reich.

The first appearance of signees will be at the 2018 Spring Football Game at Irwin Belk Stadium.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Candlelight Vigil held for the passing of Wingate student Geoffrey Dawkins

Gabriela Cabrera, Staff Writer

Wingate University students were silent as they gathered together on Thursday to hold a candlelight vigil for a sophomore who passed away earlier this week.

Geoffrey Dawkins, a sophomore criminal justice major, passed away at CMC Main in Charlotte, North Carolina. Students honored his memory by gathering together to share the joy he had brought to each of them. Geoffrey was a member of the Wingate Pep band and Marching band and also the Kappa Alpha fraternity.

Students gather for a candlelight vigil for the passing of Geoffrey Dawkins

Noah Couick, student manager of Wingate University’s Writing Center, said that Geoffrey was not only a fighter through his sickness, but also through his academics.

“He frequently visited the Writing Center for help with papers and had a zeal to succeed,” said Couick. “I look back and am honored to know that I read the papers of this student.”

Students assembled on the Stegall lawn, hugging and sharing support as Shannon Powell, the director of the Campus Fellowship for Christian Athletes, opened with prayer.

Shelby Dworek, a junior, said she felt comforted being surrounded by friends who also knew Geoffrey.

“You could hear people crying as Mr. Powell started praying. We were all there to support each other in this loss,” said Dworek.

Gage Sumrall, a sophomore who shared the same Kappa Alpha Order fraternity as Dawkins, said that Dawkins was not only a friend and fellow band member, but a brother to him as well.

“Geoffrey Dawkins will be missed by many, but I am so happy to know that his health will never be an issue again,” said Sumrall.

Geoffrey suffered from a skin disease that affected his skin, nails and hair growth. By sophomore year in high school he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that makes it hard for the heart to deliver blood throughout the body.

Cardell Rawlings, a senior, said that once someone got to know Dawkins, he was easily the most genuine and happiest person to walk this Earth.

Rawlings, along with Sumrall and others on the football team, surprised Dawkins, before he passed, by visiting him at CMC Main.

Levine_Dawkins_Nov_3
Photo from Wingate Bulldogs Site

Rawlings said Dawkins kept mentioning how much he wished he could have been at the Wingate homecoming game.

“He stayed so positive and kept telling me, ‘Keep going, keep grinding, it’s all going to pay off’,” said Rawlings. “That hit me then and has hit me even deeper now.”

The vigil ended with the students reciting the Lord’s prayer.

The fraternity brothers of Kappa Alpha Order set up a Go Fund Me page for Dawkins’ family, to help pay his medical bills.

https://www.gofundme.com/geoffrey-dawkins-hospital-bills

Edited by: Brea Childs

Photo cover by: Gabriela Cabrera

Bulldogs beat Limestone at homecoming and claim the SAC title

(EDITOR’S UPDATE: The Bulldogs ended their regular season with a 25-17 loss at Tusculum on Saturday. But Wingate, ranked No. 16 in Division II, earned a spot in the playoffs and will host the University of West Florida in a first-round game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Irwin Belk Stadium.) 

Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

The Wingate University football team moved to 9-0 on Saturday in a win against Limestone College. The Bulldogs claimed the SAC as they demolished Limestone 44-20, climbing to #12 in the AFCA/NCAA Division II Coaches’ top 25 poll. This breaks a record for the team, as they were ranked for a fifth consecutive week in that poll.

During the game, senior running backs Blake Hayes and Lawrence Pittman combined for 279 yards rushing. While Limestone scored a touchdown early on in the game, the Bulldogs dominated in the second-half, as redshirt junior quarterback Dylan Williams threw a career-high of four touchdown passes.

Yesterday Wingate played Tusculum as their final regular game of the season. Despite their loss, the Bulldogs have claimed the SAC title as theirs, with no competition on the horizon.

Last Saturday was also Wingate’s Homecoming game, as the University saw a return of alumni and the crowning of this year’s homecoming King and Queen. Seniors Isaac Aning and Hannah Overcash took the crown as they were voted in by their peers, thus ending the week of festivities leading up to the game.

Edited by: Brea Childs