W&J pulls past Bridgewater in 2OT
WASHINGTON – It took a touchdown on the final play of regulation and two overtimes, but unbeaten Washington & Jefferson came from behind to beat Bridgewater (Va.), 55-48, and advance to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs on Saturday.
Afterward, W&J coach Mike Sirianni had a message for Division I fans.
“Division I schools who like this BCS stuff should come and watch an NCAA playoff game because that is tremendous, fighting to play another day, fighting to win a national championship,” he said. “All that Division I BCS junk, come watch a Division III playoff game, especially a game like that because that was a tremendous football game.”
Washington & Jefferson will host Christopher Newport, 35-24 winners over Salisbury, next week at Cameron Stadium.
Bridgewater completed a three-play, 74-yard drive to take a 41-34 lead with 1:19 left to play in regulation. It was the sixth time they’d taken the lead, but like the previous five, it didn’t last.
The Presidents started their final drive on their own 37-yard line with 1:11 remaining and marched to the Bridgewater 4 for a first-and-goal with four seconds left. Bridgewater was called for pass interference in the end zone on the next play for another first down, and junior quarterback Chris Edwards’ next pass to Jon Miller was incomplete with one second left.
Again Edwards tried to connect with Miller, and Bridgewater was called for pass interference for the second time as time expired.
On the final play, Edwards handed off to junior wide receiver Aaron Krepps, who rushed for one yard into the end zone for the touchdown. The game went to overtime tied at 41-41.
“We got to that last play and we’re back and forth, I think our huddle was yelling, ‘Do this, do this, do this.'” Sirianni said. “I was like, ‘Be quiet for a second and let’s think about what we want to do.’ They wanted to run Chris (Edwards) on the quarterback sneak and that’s not his strong point. But it went to who has been our most consistent and explosive player, and all year it’s been Aaron (Krepps). We wanted to try to get the ball in his hands, and he had a good run.”
Bridgewater won the coin toss going into overtime and took the ball, scoring on three rushing plays to make it 48-41. But Washington & Jefferson countered with a 25-yard pass to Jacob Shields for a touchdown on its first play of the possession.
Washington & Jefferson got the ball back for the second overtime and went ahead, 55-48, on a 2-yard pass to Shields again for the touchdown. Bridgewater made it to the Washington & Jefferson 11-yard line before an illegal procedure penalty pushed them back to the 16 on fourth down and they could not convert.
The two teams had a shouting match during warm-ups after Bridgewater gathered on the 50-yard line, formed a circle and some of the players spilled onto Washington & Jefferson’s side. But coaches from both teams got the players apart before any punches were thrown.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.