NEWBERRY — The Newberry Wolves jumped out to a quick lead, but the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears scored 31 consecutive points to earn a 44-21 win at Setzler Field and hold on to the Bishops Trophy for the second year in a row.
Newberry falls to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the South Atlantic Conference entering next Saturday’s 1 p.m. season finale at Brevard, while Lenoir-Rhyne is now 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference.
The Wolves jumped on the scoreboard early after a 33-yard rush by Dureal Elmore (Abbeville) set up a 42-yard touchdown pass from W.T. Murden (West Columbia) to Jason Livingston (Conway) on the game’s second play to make it 7-0 Newberry.
L-R responded with a nine-play drive capped by a 26-yard field goal from Zach Neumann to make it 7-3. The Wolves drove down into the Lenoir-Rhyne red zone, but Murden was sacked and fumbled leading to a three-play touchdown drive from the Bears with Reuben Haynes’ 50-yard touchdown pass to Artis Gilmore giving the guests a 10-7 lead.
Newberry started the next drive on its own 7 yard line and needed just nine plays to regain the lead at 14-10 on a 14-yard touchdown carry from Wesley Brown (John’s Island) with 12:29 left in the half. L-R answered with a six-play, 68-yard drive with Jarrod Spears’ 1-yard touchdown carry making it a 17-14 Bears’ lead.
The Wolves quickly found themselves in the red zone again, but could not punch it in from the 1-yard line, and a short field goal was missed. Newberry forced L-R to punt on the next drive and Corey Washington (North Charleston) had a 31-yard return to the L-R 30-yard line, but fumbled the ball on the drive’s first play to give the ball to the Bears. A pair of 15-yard gains pushed the ball back into Newberry territory and L-R’s Justin Powell nailed a 43-yard field goal to give the Bears a 20-14 halftime lead.
Newberry forced L-R to punt on the opening drive of the second half, but that punt was downed at Newberry’s 1-yard line. The Wolves moved out of the shadow of their own goalpost, but Murden was sacked and fumbled again with the Bears recovering. Nine plays later, L-R’s Isaiah Whitaker rushed in from a yard out to make it 26-14 after Brian Spencer (Columbia) intercepted the two-point conversion attempt.
Three plays later, a long Murden pass was intercepted and L-R converted the game’s fourth turnover into points on a six-play, 51-yard drive with Haynes’ 2-yard touchdown rush making it 34-14 after a Corron Boston two-point conversion rush was successful.
After Murden was injured on the first play of the fourth quarter, Newberry’s JoJo Morris (Lancaster) booted his only punt of the game for 50 yards, but L-R had a decent return and pushed the lead to 41-14 after a Chris Robinson 44-yard touchdown carry.
Senior Michael Rentz (James Island) led the offense 83 yards in 11 plays and cut the lead to 41-21 on an Elmore 1-yard touchdown carry. L-R used a big play on third down to eat up most of the clock remaining and Neumann’s 19-yard field goal made it a 44-21 game. A long Washington kickoff return put Newberry in the Bears’ territory, but a fourth down conversion attempt fell incomplete and the 44-21 scoreline stood as final.
Murden was 14-of-18 passing for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception and moved into third place at Newberry for passing yards in a season with 2,334 yards this year. Rentz completed 8-of-12 passes for 88 yards. Livingston had six receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Elmore led the rushing attack with seven carries for 62 yards and a score.
Washington had five returns on special teams for 133 yards, while Livingston had 55 return yards. Jamal Bethune (Gable) led Newberry with 13 tackles and three tackles for loss, while Apollo Stretch (Columbia) had nine tackles. Daniel Foster (Lancastera) recorded a sack.