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Greetings From The Booth.
As a fellow once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The Shenandoah Hornets experienced those two extremes in the span of a week, only in reverse. SU Football went from the depths of a crushing last-second defeat at Ferrum 2 weeks ago to the absolute elation of their own improbable walk-off victory this past Saturday, a 9-7 home win against D-2 Emory and Henry.
Oh, me of little faith. Full confession–in the week leading up to Saturday’s contest, I did not see how the Hornets could emotionally get up off the canvas after the gut punch by the Panthers and beat a team that averaged 41 points a game and gave up only 20. The Wasps’ only 2 losses were by one and three points, respectively. In other words, they were four points from being an undefeated team. Only one team, Randolph-Macon, had held E&H to under 32 points. The Wasps also boasted an 1100-yard running back in Devotae Jordan, so the task was formidable, even under normal circumstances.
But, as I drove to Shentel Saturday, I started to feel better about things. The Hornets have been a mature, resilient bunch this season, and according to Head Coach Scott Yoder, were coming off a good week of practice. If somehow, Shenandoah could hang in early, maybe, just maybe…
SU certainly did that, and more. Despite an early Wasp touchdown, the Hornet defense came to play. Jordan got his yards (168), but never really broke off a big run. In arguably one of the best defensive efforts in program history, Shenandoah held E&H to 172 yards and 34 points below their season average. Linebacker Ben Burgan led the effort with a 16-tackle performance, one that earned him ODAC Defensive Player Of The Week and a place on the D3 Football Team Of The Week.
But the real story of the game is one of redemption. The Hornets scored what looked like the game-tying touchdown in the third quarter, but kicker Patrick Ritchie pushed the extra point wide left and Shenandoah still trailed 7-6.
Folks, in 22 seasons of SU football, I’ve seen this movie too many times. Bad things have followed the Hornets over the years. Just ask my long time broadcast partner Scott Musa–we’ve seen it all. Close, but no cigar. But on this day, karma was with Shenandoah, as Ritchie got a second chance, and nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give his team the win, a kick that would have been good from 50. The celebration that followed was not only about the moment, but a release of the pent-up frustration and disappointment of the previous week. The win was not only redemption for Ritchie, but for the team, and the program, which deserved to have something go their way.
We were long overdue…
On to Randolph-Macon, with a 12:30 air time Saturday on the River 95-3, when we’ll be in The Booth at Day Field. Until then…GO HORNETS!