PEMBROKE, N.C. — The West Virginia Wesleyan (0-2) football team fell in its Mountain East Conference opener at University of North Carolina Pembroke (1-1) by a final score of 50-26 at Grace P. Johnson Stadium on Saturday (Sept. 10).
Quarterback Nathan Payne completed 16 passes on 31 attempts for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Javian Tomlinson had 15 carries for 62 yards. Devin Washington caught three receptions for 102 yards and a score.
On the defensive side, 2021 All-MEC Honorable Mention honoree Deontre Logan led the Bobcats with 10 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Jerome Colbert had one interception and one tackle. Khalil Smith forced a fumble on special teams.
Leaders for UNCP
JaQuan Kelly had a huge day on the ground for UNCP. Kelly rushed for 183 yards on 10 rushes and three touchdowns. QB Josh Jones aired two touchdown passes and had 79 passing yards.
Inside the First Half
The Braves went 76 yards on 13 plays in their opening drive, capped off by a C.J. Davis receiving touchdown from Josh Jones. After a WVWC stalled possession, UNCP’s JaQuan Kelly rumbled for 71 yards to give the hosts a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter.
The ‘Cats offense compiled an 89-yard drive and attempted an 18-yard field goal at the beginning of the second quarter. UNCP blocked the field goal attempt and kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard. The Braves scored their second 60+ yard rushing touchdown of the afternoon and led 21-0 midway through the second frame. The Braves led 29-0 at the end of the first half.
Inside the Second Half
The Braves special teams unit started the second half with a 100-yard kickoff return for six to increase the lead to 36-0. The Bobcats fought back and scored 18 unanswered points. Payne connected with Washington on a 64-yard strike for WVWC’s first touchdown of the season on the Bobcats’ first drive of the second half. WVWC blocked a punt deep in Pembroke territory and Donovan Woods recovered the football in the end zone for a special teams touchdown. The Bobcats trailed 36-12 after three quarters of play.
Freshman defensive back Jerome Colbert picked off a UNCP pass and returned it for a 17-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 36-18. Kelly added two touchdowns for the Braves to extend the UNCP lead. Payne completed his second touchdown pass of the afternoon after he connected with Xander Castillo for a 27-yard score. UNCP won the MEC opener, 50-26.
The Bobcats welcome Concord to Buckhannon for WVWC’s home opener on Saturday (Sept. 17). Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Cebe Ross Field.