Tigers Upset Bid Falls Short in Loss to Second-Ranked Linfield

Tigers Upset Bid Falls Short in Loss to Second-Ranked Linfield

McMINNVILLE, Ore. --- Hampden-Sydney hung with the number-two ranked team in the nation in the second round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship but ultimately fell 31-21 at Linfield College. The Tigers end their season at 9-3 overall and 6-1 in ODAC play while winning the school's eighth conference championship and capturing the program's first-ever playoff win. Linfield (11-0, 6-0 NWC) advances to the quarterfinals and will face University of Wisconsin-Whitewater next Saturday.

Junior receiver Holton Walker (Lynchburg, VA/Brookville) set the Hampden-Sydney single-season records for catches (111) and receiving yards (1,723) as he caught eight passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.

As a team, the Tigers racked up 415 yards of total offense and 21 points on a team that had given up 12.0 points-per-game and 252.3 yards-per-game. They also held the Wildcats well below their 53.7 points-per-game average.

Despite the gaudy numbers and nation-leading scoring offense, the Tigers entered Maxwell Field undaunted by the Wildcats, scoring on their first drive while marching 78 yards on eight plays in just over three minutes and going up 7-0 on a three-yard pass from Nash Nance (Calhoun, GA/Tennessee) to Chris Shembo (Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Country Day).

The Tiger defense forced a punt after eight plays, and it took the Tigers just two plays to double their score with a 70-yard strike from Nance to Walker.

The two teams traded possessions, and Linfield then got on the board as Josh Repp 40-yard field goal with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter.

After the Tigers turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the second quarter, Sidney Henry (Haymarket, VA/Battlefield) picked off Josh Yoder on the Hampden-Sydney one-yard line to keep the Wildcats out of the end zone.

The Tigers had two incomplete passes and faced a third-and-ten from their own one yard line when Nance hit Walker for 42-yards to give Hampden-Sydney some breathing room. Nance and the Tigers then drove the rest of the field, and capped off the 99-yard drive with a Nance one-yard sneak.  

On Linfield's ensuing drive, Yoder hit back-to-back passes for 32- and 33-yards while leading the Wildcats 72 yards scoring drive that ended in a Josh Hill two-yard run.

Each team then threw interceptions and then punted and ended the half with a 21-10 Tiger lead.

The Linfield defense stepped up in the second half, while the 'Cats' offense capitalized on Tiger turnovers. Linfield was able to score the lone touchdown in the third quarter, recovering a fumble on the Hampden-Sydney 32-yard line. Six plays later, Hill ran in for his second touchdown of the day on a three-yard score.

Linfield again took over with good field position and took its first lead of the game with Josh Hill hitting Westly Meng for a two-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Four possessions later, Zach Morgan (Virginia Beach, VA/Ocean Lakes) picked off Yoder at the one on a shot to the end zone giving that ball back to the Tigers with a chance at another 99-yard drive.

Linfield, however, brought pressure and sacked Nance in the end zone, forcing a fumble in the end zone that Dominique Forrest recovered to put Linfield up 31-21 with just over six minutes remaining.

The ensuing Tiger drive ended with a punt, and Linfield was able to run out the clock for the victory.

Hampden-Sydney tallied 415 yards of offense on 388 passing and 27 rushing. Nance was 29-of-49 for 387 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also ran for a touchdown.

Walker was the game's top receiver, catching eight passes for 164 yards and a score. Austin Perryman (Fairfax, VA/Fairfax) had five catches for 53 yards;Joey Druhan (Purcellville, VA/Loudoun Valley) caught four passes for 52; Shembo also had four catches for 29 yards and a score; and Michael Mey (Glen Allen, VA/VMI) had 62 yards on two catches.

Defensively, the Tigers allowed 375 yards on 245 passing and 130 rushing. They also picked off three passes with Henry recording two. Shreve Rohle(Mechanicsville, VA/Hanover) recorded a team-high ten tackles, including one for loss. Josh Doggett (Mechanicsville, VA/Atlee) recorded nine stops, andJohn Moore (Powhatan, VA/Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot) notched eight. Morgan and Charlie Shoemaker (Charlotte, NC/Myers Park) each had five tackles.

The Tigers had an accomplishing season and one of the best in program history with a 9-3 overall record, an ODAC Championship, and a first round playoff win at home. The senior class graduates with 32 wins, two ODAC Championships, and two NCAA Playoff appearances.

--- This release is courtesy of the Hampden-Sydney College sports information department. ---