Wingate University’s Jon Jimenez broke up a fourth down pass in the end zone with 56 seconds remaining as the Bulldogs held on for a 41-33 victory over Tusculum College on Saturday at Pioneer Field in Greeneville.
The loss spoiled the record-breaking day for Tusculum quarterback Bo Cordell, who became NCAA Division II’s all-time leading passer with 15,049 yards. The senior eclipsed the total of 14,733 by Zach Amedro of West Liberty set in 2010. Cordell’s total is also fifth all-time in NCAA history among all divisions.
Tusculum (3-5, 1-4 South Atlantic Conference) nearly erased a 16-point deficit in the final 2:15. The Pioneers trailed 41-25 when Cordell engineered a six-play, 76-yard drive, capped off by a five-yard run by Isaac Robinson. Cordell hit Matt Levine for the two-point conversion pass to make the score 41-33.
Tusculum recovered the on-side kick as Levine came up with the loose ball at the Wingate 45-yard line.
Cordell found Deon Hicks for a 37-yard completion on the first play. Robinson ran for four yards and two yards, and Cordell was stopped for no gain on third down to set the stage for the Pioneers’ final play from the 2. Cordell’s pass to tight end Wesley Powell to the back of the end zone was broken up by Jimenez.
Cordell finished with 349 yards on 32-for-55 passing with two touchdowns.
Sophomore receiver Justin Houston scored three touchdowns — two passes from Cordell — as well as a 99-yard kickoff return to start the game. It was the longest kickoff return in school history.
Running back Nestor Lantigua rushed 27 times for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns for Wingate (4-3,3-2). Robbie Nallenweg completed 22-of-33 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns.
Houston finished with a game-high 11 receptions for 120 yards, while Hicks had seven catches for 133 yards.