Greensboro, NC -- Guilford College junior receiver Chris McKinney (Apex, NC/Apex) scored two touchdowns and broke the NCAA Division III season record for most punt returns for a touchdown in the Quakers' 17-7 home football win over Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) rival Emory & Henry Saturday. The contest marked the season finale for both teams.
McKinney's (pictured) 77-yard scoring return in the second quarter marked his third in as many games and fifth of the year, breaking the previous record he shared with four players, including former NFL running back Chris Warren (Ferrum, 1989). With five punt returns for a touchdown this season, McKinney equaled the NCAA all-divisions record with Division II Shepherd (WV) College's James Rooth, who accomplished the feat in 1998.
The Quakers' (4-6, 3-3 ODAC) third straight win moved them into a second-place tie in the ODAC and ended a four-game losing streak to Emory & Henry in the season series. Guilford's three league victories mark its most since the 1998 squad went 3-2 in the league. The Wasps finished with a 5-5 overall record (3-3 ODAC), their most losses in a season since the 1983 team went 5-5.
With Guilford trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, Emory & Henry freshman punter Brian Meador (Wirtz, VA/Franklin County) kicked his third punt of the day 46 yards to McKinney, who fielded the kick at his own 23-yard line. He returned it up the middle and broke to his left where he eluded Meador near the sideline and ran into the end zone with 9:30 left in the first half.
"I didn't think they were going to kick to me at all," McKinney said. "When they did kick to me, I saw good blocks and lots of help. It's easy when 10 guys are helping out."
"It's a middle return play," Guilford head coach Mike Ketchum said. "The players made it up during the second game of the season. It's much easier to play than it is to coach."
McKinney, a late-August transfer from Division I North Carolina State, scored on a 34-yard receiver sweep with 13:15 remaining in the game to give the Quakers a 17-7 lead. Senior tight end Nick Lamotta (Rolesville, NC/Wake Forest-Rolesville) set up McKinney's team-leading 11th touchdown of the season by recovering a punt muffed by Wasps' sophomore Jay Clark (Gretna, VA/Altavista) at Emory & Henry's 35-yard line.
The Wasps' best second-half scoring chance ended on Guilford's 16-yard line with 5:43 left in the third quarter. Emory & Henry used a fake punt to sustain a drive that lasted 16 plays and covered 73 yards before Quakers' redshirt-freshman linebacker Terrance Gary (Spring Lake, NC/Pine Forest) stopped a scrambling Emory & Henry quarterback Shannon Johnson (Iron Gate, VA/Alleghany) six yards shy of the first down on a fourth-and-nine play.
The Wasps twice moved inside Guilford's 30-yard line in the second quarter, but the Quakers intercepted Johnson in the end zone both times. Redshirt freshman Travis Boyd (Pompano Beach, FL/Coconut Creek) made his second interception in as many weeks with 8:11 left in the first half and junior safety J.J. Edwards (Mims, FL/Astronaut) made his team-leading fifth pick of the season with 14 seconds left on a third-and-10 play from the Quakers' 25-yard line.
Guilford sophomore fullback Brian Caye (Chapel Hill, NC/Northwood) rushed for a game-high 80 yards on 10 carries. Junior running back Brandon Lockhart (Roxboro, NC/Person) added 78 yards on 14 carries. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Josh Smith (Goldsboro, NC/Rosewood) ran for 36 yards and completed five of 14 passes for 50 yards in his first college start. He started in place of injured junior Oren Robinson (Anderson, SC/Westside). McKinney, who also made three receptions for 16 yards, finished with 127 all-purpose yards and broke Guilford's and the ODAC's single-season punt-return yardage records (533). He started the week ranked first among NCAA Division III punt return leaders and finished the season with a school- and ODAC-record 26.6 yards per return average.
Edwards paced the Quakers' defense with 12 tackles (3 solo) and broke up two passes. Senior linebacker Will Black (Charlotte, NC/Providence Day) made 10 stops (6 solo), including two for a loss, in his final college contest. Sophomore cornerback O.J. Batts (Wallace, NC/Rose Hill) added eight stops and his fifth interception of the season.
Emory & Henry's Johnson completed 16 of 41 passes for 184 yards, including a 10-yard scoring strike to rookie tight end Brett Kickliter (Parrottsville, TN/Cocke County) in the second quarter. He also rushed for 26 yards. Junior receiver Adam Davis (Cedar Bluff, VA/Richlands) led all receivers with nine grabs for 99 yards. Sophomore running back Dan Hammonds (Newport, TN/Cocke County) led the Wasps on the ground with 39 yards on 13 carries. Senior Ernest Cheatham (Richmond, VA/Lee-Davis), Emory & Henry's starting tailback, left the game with an injured ankle in the first half and did not return. Sophomore safety Bradley Gerstmyer (York, PA/Central York) made a team-high 11 tackles (7 solo) for the Wasps. His second-quarter interception set up his team's lone touchdown.
After a 1-6 start, the Quakers rallied to match their most wins in a season since a 4-6 campaign in 1999. The team's season-ending three-game winning streak marked its longest since the 1999 unit won its first three games.
"This season wasn't the best record," Ketchum said. "But it was the most growth I've ever seen from the first game to the 10th game. Once we started growing, we never looked back."