HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, VA-The Hampden-Sydney Tigers (9-2, 6-1 ODAC) claimed their first-ever playoff victory with a 42-34 home victory over Maryville (8-3, 6-1 USA South) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship. The Tigers extend their season and face Linfield on Saturday, November 30.
The game was back-and-forth with each team holding leads, but the Tigers took a 21-20 lead early in the second quarter and held on throughout. Junior receiver Holton Walker (Lynchburg, VA/Brookville) broke school records for single-game receptions and single-game receiving yards as he hauled in 16 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Junior quarterback Nash Nance (Calhoun, GA/Tennessee) threw five touchdown passes to go with 338 yards and one interception on 23-of-40 accuracy.
Defensively, the Tigers stopped Maryville three times on fourth down in the second half to help preserve the slim lead. Sophomore cornerback Sidney Henry (Haymarket, VA/Battlefield) also broke a school record with six pass breakups.
The first half, however, was an offensive shootout, with Walker and Nance started the scoring action off with a 13-yard strike to cap off a ten-play, 70-yard scoring drive.
Maryville, undaunted by its first trip to the postseason, rattled off a two-minute drive to tie the game at 7-7 on a Travis Felder 38-yard run up the middle.
The visiting Scots then struck again on a 23-yard run from Trenton Shuler, but failed to connect on the extra point and led 13-7 seven minutes into the game.
Maryville reclaimed the lead on its first drive of the second quarter as an Ed Johnson 26-yard reception put the Scots up 20-14.
The lead lasted for just 50 seconds as Walker and Nance connected again on an 80-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers back up by one.
The Tigers managed two more touchdowns with an 18-yard catch by Walker and a three-yard run by Chris Shembo (Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Country Day), but Maryville managed one more score with nine seconds to go in the half, and the Felder one-yard run brought the Scots within eight at 35-27 heading to intermission.
While the first half was a shootout, the second was a defensive battle with each team only scoring once.
The Tigers only possessed the ball in the third quarter for five minutes, but the Tiger defense held strong. The Scots scored on their first drive of the quarter to come within one at 35-34, but the Tigers forced two straight punts, including a three-and-out to end the third quarter with a Tiger lead.
As Hampden-Sydney held a 42-34 lead, the defense got stronger as play went on. The Scots' final three drives – including one that went to the Hampden-Sydney 18-yard line – all ended in turnover on downs while securing the Tigers first-ever postseason victory.
On the day, Hampden-Sydney tallied 417 yards of offense on 338 passing yards and 79 rushing yards. Mey and Shembo each caught two passes for 27 yards. Shembo also led the rushing attack with 54 yards and a score on 15 carries.
Defensively, the Tigers allowed 466 yards of offense on 276 rushing and 197 passing. Junior linebacker Josh Doggett (Mechanicsville, VA/Atlee) led the way with a game-high 12 tackles. Shreve Rohle (Mechanicsville, VA/Hanover) and Tyler Ikwild (Philomont, VA/Loudoun Valley) each tallied nine to go with a combined 2.5 tackles-for-loss. Henry recorded five tackles while breaking up six passes.
The Tigers will continue their season against Linfield next Saturday, November 30. Details will be forthcoming.