Hornets vs Monarchs Week 1: Back To The Future
As we approach the holiday weekend and the unofficial end of Summer, most of us start transitioning to football, as college football begins in earnest this weekend, and the NFL plays for real next week. This time of year our posts are all about Shenandoah University football, and this week the Hornets open the 2018 season with a long trip to Fayetteville, NC, and the renewal of an old USA South rivalry with Methodist.
As I have the driving duties on the return trip, I must always remind myself that 95 is the route number, not the speed limit. BTW, I love the old “South Of The Border” signs all along I-95. It was the ultimate tourist trap back in the day, and those signs lured many of us there…only to find a plethora of fireworks and fast food.
I thought this week, being week one, that I would revisit the most memorable Methodist game from the past, and take you Back To The Future to November 13, 2004, when the Hornets clinched their (to this date) only NCAA playoff berth in football. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Shenandoah was anything but a dominant team in 2004 (I have always thought that the 8-2 2003 team was better), winning many games by the skin of their collective teeth, even losing a game or 2 that they should have won.
So, it was a nervous crowd of 1500 that gathered on a sunny, cool, and breezy Saturday at Shentel Stadium. Both teams were 4-1 in the USA South, with 3 teams actually having a shot at the league title. Only SU controlled it’s own destiny, however. A hornet win…and they were in.
From the get-go, there was no doubt who the better team was. The Hornets would not be denied. After an early Bryce Harrington field goal put SU up 3-0, the lead continued to snowball, as the Hornet’s ace wing offense pounded the Monarchs into the Shentel turf. A couple of Anthony “Freight Train” Frates TD runs made it 16-0, and by halftime, Shenandoah was well in front 30-0.
After the break, the clock could not run fast enough, but SU would add the exclamation point with a bruising 13-play drive, capped by a QB John Hoffman run, which started the celebration early. A couple of Monarch scores made the final of 42-23 simply cosmetic. The Hornets were in the NCAA playoffs!
On that day, Frates would carry the football 41 times (as my broadcast partner Scott Musa would say, “keep giving him the ball, it ain’t heavy) for 207 yards, a record that would stand until Cedrick Delaney’s 321-yard day 10 years later. Shenandoah amassed 437 rushing yards on the day and enjoyed a 2-to-1 advantage in time of posession.
As a footnote, SU would travel to Bucks County, Pa. the following Saturday to play undefeated Delaware Valley in the D-3 playoffs, and almost pulled the shocker before falling in the final minutes 21-17 to the Aggies.
But today we celebrate a big win against Methodist…November 13, 2004. Thanks for hopping into the Delorean with me this week, and let’s hope for a nice 1-0 start this weekend in Carolina. Until next time…