Hornet Preview-A Great Opportunity
Well, no one said it would be easy…
The Shenandoah University Hornets went to Hampden-Sydney last week in control of their own NCAA playoff destiny. After a 49-43 loss to the Tigers, we all thought that SU’s title hopes were done, and all there was to play for was a 7-win season and a victory for the seniors.
But wait! On the ride home we learned of an ODAC title scenario for the Hornets: Beat Washington & Lee on Senior Day and hope for a Randolph Macon win in “The Game” against HSC. Those two things would create a 4-way tie in the league. By virtue of the tiebreakers, Shenandoah would be the ODAC representative in the NCAA Division-3 playoffs. Dare we dream?
The task will not be easy. The W&L Generals boast one of the top rushing attacks in the nation, and feature Freshman RB Josh Breece, who has cut a 1400-yard swath through ODAC defenses. Last year the Generals ran for 500 yards against the Hornets in a 59-42 scorefest in Lexington, so it’s not hard to figure out what W&L’s plan will be Saturday.
The Hornets, on the other hand, are a “pass first” team. QB Hayden Bauserman will have to be sharp, get time to throw from his offensive line, and his receivers will have to help him out and limit “drops.”
A key Saturday will be Shenadoah’s ability to get an early lead. In last year’s game, the Generals led 35-14 at halftime, and the Hornets were never able to catch up. This was also the case in Shenandoah’s recent ODAC losses to Guilford and Hampden Sydney. It’s imperative that SU find a way to get out to a 2-score lead if possible.
The X-factor Saturday will be turnovers. W&L has had a tendency to fumble the ball this season. While you can’t count on that to happen Saturday, the Hornets absolutely must take advantage of any General’s mistakes, something they didn’t do in the loss to the Quakers.
It’s also important that the Hornets BELIEVE they can win. Head Coach Scott Yoder said this on Wednesday, “I think this is the key: in my time here we have never gone toe-to-toe with a really good team when we were good, with everything on the line for both teams, and won. And we need to do that for our program. Can we go toe-to-toe on a November Saturday , look our opponent in the eye and beat a really good football team? If we do that, that’s the biggest step we can take in our program. And the rest will be decided by fate, or people we can’t control.”
The Hornets are just 1-12 in their last 13 November games. None of that will matter if Shenandoah can beat Washington & Lee on Saturday, and hopefully get a little help from the football gods in Ashland, Va.
In the movie about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team, “Miracle”, Kurt Russell, in his portrayal of Coach Herb Brooks, said “great moments are born from great opportunity.” That opportunity is here for the Hornets. Let’s hope for some great moments on Saturday…and maybe some extra football for the Seniors.
Air time is 12:30 Saturday from the Booth. Until then…
GO HORNETS! RW