NEWBERRY — Newberry clinched at least a share of the South Atlantic Conference championship with its eighth consecutive win overall and ninth straight in conference play with a 53-14 drubbing of Lenoir-Rhyne, retaining the Bishops’ Trophy and setting several records in the process.
The 23rd-ranked Wolves (8-1, 6-0 SAC) gained 729 yards of offense on the afternoon, the seventh-most in Division II this season and the most in school history by an even 100 yards. Newberry reached 300 yards on the ground for the first time in 13 months with a 302-yard performance and saw Raleigh Yeldell pass for 428 yards, the fifth-highest single-game total in school history.
Newberry’s 39 first downs set a new South Atlantic Conference record, eclipsing former conference member Elon’s 38 against Wingate in 1992. Newberry saw 10 different receivers record a catch, seven of which had at least 25 receiving yards, and had six players tally 20 or more yards on the ground.
The Wolves scored their first touchdown just 40 seconds into the contest, with Wesley Jordan’s third receiving score of the season on a 13-yard pass capping a three-play, 45-yard drive set up by a 44-yard return of the opening kickoff by Darius Clark.
From there, the rout was on. Yeldell found Keinan Lewis on a 20-yard touchdown strike on Newberry’s second drive after the Wolves’ defense forced a three-and-out. A nine-play, 84-yard drive was snuffed out by a fumble into the end zone, but the Wolves were undeterred.
Newberry would go on to score touchdowns on four of its five second quarter possessions on its way to a 42-7 halftime lead, with Clark recording the first of his career-high two touchdown catches and Yeldell, Braxton Ivery, and Romelo Doctor adding scores on the ground.
Doctor had easily his most impressive performance of the 2016 season, netting 95 yards and a score on just 11 carries to average 8.6 yards per rush. Forty-six yards on three receptions gave the senior running back 141 all-purpose yards.
Ivery was Newberry’s second-leading rusher with 66 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He also led the Wolves in receiving with 78 yards on eight catches, while Lewis added a career-high 75 yards.
The Newberry defense limited Lenoir-Rhyne (2-7, 2-3 SAC) to a paltry 154 yards of total offense, its best showing since giving up 140 yards to Wingate in October 2014, and pressured the Bears relentlessly throughout the afternoon. Lenoir-Rhyne quarterbacks combined to go 9-for-21 for 99 yards, throwing two interceptions and seeing another three passes batted away by Wolves’ defenders.
Rashaad Smith and Kardeem Hines came away with interceptions for the Wolves, while Marcus Brown recovered a fumble forced by Ty’Ran Dixon to give the defense three takeaways.
Six Wolves notched one tackle for loss each, giving Newberry 31 stops behind the line of scrimmage in its last three games. All but one of Lenoir-Rhyne’s 15 drives covered 28 yards or less.
The Bears’ first points came on a 91-yard kickoff return by Sherrod Williams in the second quarter to break a string of 35 consecutive Newberry points. Robbie Hooks capped a six-play, 51-yard drive with a three-yard rush late in the fourth quarter, giving Lenoir-Rhyne its first offensive touchdown in over 178 minutes of game time dating back to its game against UNC Pembroke Oct. 8.
Yeldell had a banner day offensively, completing 35 of his 46 attempts for 428 yards and four touchdowns. He accomplished his passing total, the fifth-highest output in school history, without completing a single pass longer than 32 yards.
He added 21 yards on the ground to net 451 yards of total offense on the afternoon, moving into second place in Newberry single-season history with 3,146 yards in 2016. He is just 68 yards shy of passing Josh Stepp’s 2004 season as the best in school history.
Yeldell became the only player in Newberry history with 5,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing in his career, surpassing both career milestones against the Bears. His career now total stands at 6,754 yards.
Newberry improved to 17-11 all-time as a ranked team. The Wolves are assured of at least a share of the South Atlantic Conference championship and could win the title outright by defeating Wingate at Setzler Field on Nov. 12.
The Wolves return to action Saturday in a non-conference game at Limestone. Kickoff from Gaffney is set for 5:00 p.m.
This release was provided by Newberry College.