The tone is set for the South Atlantic conference race, and early signs suggest a rough few months ahead.
The first Saturday of SAC competition delivered some action, with two of the Week 3 matchups going into overtime: Limestone passed Carson-Newman in a 40-37 shootout, while reigning league champions Newberry needed two extra frames to post a 26- 23 to pass exam at Emory & Henry.
Following these exciting finishes, Week 4 brings many potential encores in an exciting conference campaign.
Mars Hill near Barton
Barton proved his options offense had a lot more to offer than standout running back Jordan Terrell in the Bulldogs’ Week 3 win over UVA Wise. While the Cavs slowed dynamic Terrell, who only managed 44 carries on 24 (but still made the endzone), Barton quarterback Jaquan Lynch went for 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns with just 13 carries in the 40-20 win.
The addition of a third point via pass helped Lynch earn SAC Offensive Player of the Week.
Congratulations to Barton’s Jaquan Lynch: the @SAC_Athletics Soccer Offensive Player of the Week! . #BartonBold . #BCBulldogs . @barton_fb . A total of three touchdowns in a 40-20 win last Saturday at UVA Wise! pic.twitter.com/U6IzzPGsmO
— Barton College Athletics (@BartonAthletics) September 19, 2022
Barton’s multifaceted offense is attracting arguably the most talented defense in the SAC this week, with Mars Hill finishing after a 38-7 daughter against Catawba. The Lions rebounded after a bye week and try in Week 1 against FCS opponents at East Tennessee State, keeping Catawba scoreless in the first 57 minutes of the game.
Preseason 1st-Team All-SAC linebacker Landon Honeycutt came in with a sack, made eight tackles and delivered a quarterback pressure, while Jaidyn Hicks and Jake Watson each had 1.5 sacks. Mars Hill is aiming to get into the backfield to cut off the Barton option before reads can develop – but the Lions need to be aware of the pass.
Last year, Lynch went 22 of 38 passes for 316 yards in a 40-32 win on Mars Hill when Barton Unlocked rocked his approach. The Bulldogs quarterback attempted 180 passes in Barton’s 10 other games combined and has thrown 55 passes in his first three games this season.
Emory & Henry at Wingate
2022 Emory & Henry vs Wingate
Emory & Henry, who were chosen to end up near the SAC’s basement, showed polls didn’t predict results at week 3 when the wasps gave Newberry all it could take. Although the loss dropped Emory & Henry to 2-1, the Wasps were each defeated by possession.
The undefeated Wingate, meanwhile, has notched up all three of their wins. The Bulldogs are yet to concede more than 10 points to an opponent and are down just 20 points overall after last week’s 27-10 loss to Tusculum.
Wingate’s grounding of an explosive Tusculum offense in the first two weeks was perhaps the defense’s most impressive performance to date. The Bulldogs managed to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks behind SAC leading sack producers DJ Horne (five sacks) and Marquise Fleming (four).
Saturday marks a major test for Emory & Henry’s offensive line in their efforts to protect quarterback Kyle Short, who put on an impressive display against Newberry. Short throw for 237 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in the loss.
UVA Wise at Limestone
2022 UVA Wise against limestone
Limestone’s powerful offense is one of the upsets in the first three weeks of the 2022 season, and the Saints are looking to build on their 44.7 point-a-game average in this week’s homecoming game.
Limestone scored 40 points in his overtime win over Carson-Newman a week after dropping 73 points against Saint Augustine’s. The Saints opened the season in 21st place against FCS opponent Gardner-Webb. Tre Stewart and John Seter give Limestone a nice run-pass balance, with Stewart lapping a whopping 7.4 yards per carry for 379 so far this season and Seter lapping for 573 yards and seven points through the air.
After a winless 2021, Limestone is in position to repeat overall wins from the last two Fall seasons with a win on Saturday. UVA Wise, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back after dropping its last two.
The Cavs even played Barton for 30 minutes, but a 16-0 deluge in the third quarter thwarted UVA Wise’s bid for a SAC opening win. Despite the loss, Jaevon Gillespie’s outstanding rushing gives reason for optimism: Gillespie gained nine yards per carry and finished just under 100 for the contest.