Chris Rusiewicz would have hoped his Guilford College football team found itself on the front page of ESPN.com under better circumstances, but this afternoon, he was ready to look at the positives of historic night.
Davidson’s 91-61 victory over Guilford on Thursday night saw the teams set what would have been FCS records for combined points, combined rushing yards (1,005) and combined total yards (1,662).
Because the teams do not compete at the same level, combined statistics don’t qualify as FCS records, however.
The Wildcats set FCS records for rushing yards (685) and total offense (964) while the Quakers set program marks for all-purpose yards (1,005), kickoff return yards (307).
“All the press is going on the fact they did so well against a Division III football team,” Rusiewicz said. “What no one else is taking in consideration is a Division III team put up 61 points.”
Guilford (1-1) has been an offensive machine over its first three games, putting up 61 points in both of its completed games, while Huntingdon led 58-48 in the fourth quarter of the season opener before the game was declared a no-contest as thunderstorms rolled in.
“We’re capable of putting up 60 a week, there’s no doubt about it,” Rusiewicz said. “If someone would have told me we’d put up 61 points, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. You’re not supposed to lose when you put up 61 points.”
Things actually got off to a slow start at Davidson, as both teams punted on their first drives before Alex Manley’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Desmond Marshall put the Quakers up 6-0 with 9:58 remaining in the first quarter.
The lead was short-lived as the Wildcats’ triple option attack scored touchdowns on eight of their next nine drives with six scoring plays covering 40 or more yards.
With two starting safeties out and youth plugged into the secondary, it was the imperfect storm of inexperience and circumstances for the Quakers.
“The speed of the game got them, which affected us from stopping them,” Rusiewicz said. “They got us on some passes because our guys were so geeked up to stop the run.”
Still, Guilford played on after trailing 57-26 at the half, scoring touchdowns on five of eight offensive drives as De’Eric Bell rushed for 187 yards and four touchdowns with Manley throwing for 364 yards and three touchdowns and adding another 71 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“They could have quit at halftime,” he said. “Our guys could have easily folded up and quit, but we kept challenging them to go out and play hard.”
Afterward, Davidson coach Scott Abell apologized to Rusiewicz for putting 91 on the scoreboard, but there were no hard feelings.
“It was only a 30-point football game,” Rusiewicz said. “The fact is they had to keep scoring to make sure they didn’t lose that football game.”
Naturally, Rusiewicz started hearing from friends after the game as news spread on social media, with Sports Illustrated, USA Today and Yahoo! all posting stories and highlights. SB Nation posted an analysis and highlights with the title, “This bananas Guilford-Davidson game was one of the absurd offensive performances in college football history.”
Rusiewicz is a believer that any press is good press, but he’s hopeful his guys get a little credit for battling a program that competes two divisions above the Quakers.
“We’re not getting any credit for what we did offensively,” he said. “I’m hopeful that people are seeing that and saying, ‘Look what this program did to a Division I program.’ They don’t get that many yards and that many points if we’re not scoring, either.”
As he drove to campus to start the day with a staff meeting, Rusiewicz had an appreciation for being a part of history, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a good memory.
“For me, it wasn’t fun,” he said. “Half of it was; the fact that we were able to put up 61 points on a bigger, faster, stronger defense is awesome.”
Upon his arrival, he was prepared to have two very different conversations.
“I’ll talk to my offensive staff and make them feel really good about themselves,” he said. “I’ll talk to the defensive staff about, ‘We have a lot of work to do.’ We can’t be giving up 91 points and expect to win football games. I know it was a tough challenge for those young guys, but now we need to find answers on how we get these young guys ready to play.”
Then, he’ll probably check his voicemail.
“Maybe my phone blew up there,” he said. “We’ll find out shortly.”
Guilford has hit the 61-point mark in its first two football games.
But on Thursday night, the Quakers landed on the wrong side of history.
Davidson, a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, defeated Guilford, an NCAA Division III program, 91-61 in a college football game at Davidson.
The game appears to have set an FCS record for most points combined in regulation, with 152. Weber State defeated Portland State 73-68, a total of 141, on Oct. 27, 2007.
Portland State's 105 points in a victory over Delaware State on Nov. 8, 1980, are the record for the FCS division.
It also appears to be a record for combined points in a Division III game in regulation. Brockport's 70-68 victory over Hartwick, good for 138 points, on Nov. 22, 2008, was the Division III record through the 2017 season. Hartwick's total is also the most points scored by a losing Division III team.
Davidson set school records for points, rushing yards (685), rushing touchdowns (10), total touchdowns (13) and total offensive yards (964).
Davidson's 964 total yards broke Weber State's record of 876, set in 1991, and their 685 rushing yards broke the previous standard set by Missouri State (681), according to DavidsonWildcats.com.
Davidson (3-0) scored touchdowns on 13 of 18 drives and Guilford (1-1) converted on nine of 18 drives. The teams combined for 152 points and 1,662 on 100 plays. All of the Wildcats’ touchdowns were of 20 or more yards, including eight of 50 or more yards.
Davidson also set:
- Program record for yards in a half (525).
- Program record points in a half (57).
- Program record – TDs in a game (13).
- Program record – average yards per play (15.5).
- Program record - rushing TDs in a game (10).
- Program record - blocked kicks (four).
The Wildcats’ Wesley Dugger ran 14 times for 186 yards, scoring on runs of 50, 24 and 38 yards. Will Wicks also scored three times, all in the first half. He had rushing scores of 60 and 23 yards, plus a 76-yard third-quarter touchdown catch from quarterback Tyler Phelps. Phelps, who ran four times for 91 yards and a score, completed all six pass attempts for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Backup running back Coy Williams carried 12 times for 168 yards and two long touchdowns, all in the second half.
Guilford also scored 61 points in its season-opening win over Methodist.
On Thursday night, Guilford senior De’Eric Bell carried 27 times for 187 yards and four touchdowns, all game highs, according to GuilfordQuakers.com. He also added 14 receiving yards and 191 kickoff return yards on a school-record eight attempts. Bell’s 392 all-purpose yards rank second in Guilford history. He moved into second place among Old Dominion Athletic Conference career touchdown leaders (51) and into second place among Guilford’s career rushing leaders with 3,104 yards.
Quakers quarterback Alex Manley completed 24 of 48 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 11 carries for 71 yards and a score. Montek Johnson caught eight catches for 129 yards and a touchdown, and Jordan Smith made eight catches for 86 yards and a TD.
Guilford opened the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Manley to Desmond Marshall, but the Wildcats raced to a 57-26 halftime lead. Davidson’s triple-option attack put up 525 total offensive yards and eight touchdowns in 31 first-half offensive plays. Phelps threw an 84-yard touchdown to tight end Hunter Louthan and ran for a 62-yard score in the second quarter. Six of the Wildcats’ eight first-half touchdowns went for 40 or more yards.
Guilford will return to Division III competition at Bridgewater on Sept. 29 in the ODAC opener for both teams.