WILMINGTON – Faced with the entire length of the football field in front of it, the Wilmington College offense did what it had to to Friday night to secure a victory.
Kyle Barrett finished off a 16-play, 99-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Itika Wynn Jr. with 39 seconds to play to give the Quakers a 26-21 win over Capital in the season opener.
“It felt unbelievable to be out there tonight,” WC head coach Bryan Moore said. “All the work that went into getting back out there overshadowed the fact that we had to play situational football for two full halves. For a lot of our guys, that didn’t click in right away.”
Barrett was 8 for 10 on the drive and converted three third down passes.
Though dominant statistically, Wilmington trailed 14-7 in the second half.
“We felt great at halftime, despite the miscues, some in part because of the long layoff, in the first half,” said Moore. “We felt confident we’d win the football game because we were moving the ball, our defense was played great and we received the second-half kickoff.”
Wilmington forged a tie with a 47-yard scoring drive to start the fourth quarter. The big play was the first play, a 41-yard completion from Barrett to Tyreeq Nebbitt to the 6 yard line.
Three plays later, Barrett hooked up with Wynn for a 6-yard touchdown pass and with Gabe Dolen’s extra point, the Quakers had tied the game 14-14.
Capital had one big play in the second half. After allowing 37 yards on five second half drives, the WC defense gave up a 49-yard touchdown pass from Ben Everson to Kameron Lee at 10:34.
But WC responded quick with a 7-play, 78-yard drive in 1:18, Barrett capping the possession with a three-yard touchdown run.
However the extra point failed and Wilmington was down a point, 21-20, with 9:10 to play in the fourth.
Wilmington dominated statistically on offense, outgaining Capital 550 to 265.
But three WC turnovers allowed the Crusaders to stay in the game.
The Quakers defense was strong throughout. Capital converted just 3 of 13 third down plays and had minus-2 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
“Our defense kept us in the game despite the offense putting them in some bad situations,” Moore said. ‘We started five freshmen on defense, and man, they just kept answered the call.”
Xzerious Stinnett and Austin Aiello had five solo tackles each and Jalaun Covington had four solos.
Meanwhile, the WC offense was led by Barrett (25-43, 379 yards, 2 touchdowns).
“Kyle [Barrett] didn’t have his best game, but when we needed him most, he stepped up,” Moore said of the final drive. “That’s why having seniors is huge. They didn’t flinch. There was no panic.”
Ace Taylor had six catches for 116 yards. Lathan Jones had five receptions for 109 yards.
Malik Sims rushed 11 times for 72 yards.