One For The Ages

Greetings from The Booth!

The Booth was rockin’ this past Saturday as the Shenandoah Hornets shocked rival Bridgewater in one of the greatest games I’ve had the pleasure to call in my 22 seasons of SU Football. In case you missed it, the Hornets came from 24-0 down to win 34-27 in the biggest comeback in program history. Until Saturday night, Shenandoah’s biggest comeback was a 19-point hole against Hampden-Sydney on the road, and the first signature win for Head Coach Scott Yoder.

I don’t know why, but this felt different. Maybe because it was Homecoming. Maybe it because the win came against a rival, a team that for the first 9 years of the Hornet football program, had our number and looked at us like a stepchild. And, yes, you can now call this series a rivalry. The 2 schools are an hour apart on I-81, recruit the same geographic areas, and there is local flavor on both teams. Not to mention, the record is 4-4 in the last 8 games of the series.

As for the game itself, SU kept battling, kept fighting, and clawed it’s way back into the contest. Freshman QB Steven Hugney turned to his senior receivers, and they made big plays. You could see the confidence level of Hugney (and the team) growing as the game went on. The Hornet defense decided as a unit that BC wasn’t going to score again after the Eagles built their 24-0 lead (after the second quarter, all Bridgewater could muster was a 47-yard field goal from Sherando product Jackson Hendren) and came up with 2 key interceptions down the stretch. And let’s not forget the running of Rashadeen Byrd, Jr., who pounded out 109 yards, including 2 big touchdown runs.

The identity of the Hornets is starting to emerge as a team that finds a way to overcome adversity. A lesser team would be 0-4 at this point, but SU won games against Methodist and NC Wesleyan that easily could have gone the other way. Instead of saying, “maybe it’s just not our day,” this Shenandoah team plays until the clock reads 0:00. Win or lose, there’s something to be said about that.

OK, here are my game balls for the Bridgewater game:

Steven Hugney: the aforementioned freshman went the distance at QB for the first time, and brought back memories of Hornet great Hayden Bauserman in his freshman year, with 3 TD passes and 287 yards passing. As mentioned, Hugney gained confidence as the game went on, and made decisive throws to his trusted wideouts. Hugney grew up on Saturday night.

Brant Butler: His game-winning one-handed catch will be talked about a long time at SU. That grab was one of many big plays throughout the evening from a senior that stepped up and said to his young quarterback, “I’m here for ya’.” The graduate student’s 8-catch, 177 yard night earned him ODAC Player Of The Week, and DC Touchdown Club honors. And a VFB Game Ball!

The Fans: I’ve never heard Shentel louder than it was on Saturday night. Simply put, the 3-thousand (mostly) red-clad Hornet fans would not let the team lose. The players fed off of the energy of the crowd, and showed their thanks after the game by saluting them with a team pose in front of the home stands. . I don’t think anyone on the SU side wanted to leave after the game. I know I didn’t. Well done Hornet fans! You were the fuel that powered the engine.

Now it’s on to Guilford…I think. The Quakers have had a challenging year, and have already postponed or canceled 2 games, including last week’s contest against Apprentice, due to team COVID issues. Should there be a game Saturday in Greensboro, the Hornets will certainly be favored, and will need to avoid a letdown. One could certainly understand a hard landing after the high of Saturday night’s incredible win. Coaches will preach this cautionary message all week, but often times it does no good. The L-word just happens sometimes.

Because of the uncertainty of the game itself and the letdown factor, I think this game will be closer than it should be. The Quakers just missed upsetting Hampen-Sydney a few weeks ago, and if SU isn’t careful, they could fall victim to Guilford Saturday. still, if the game is played, I think the Hornets will do enough to get the job done, and improve to 4-1 (2-1). Final: SU 27, Guilford 21.

Listen for updates this week on The River 95-3, and as of right now, we’ll be on the air at 11:30 am from North Carolina. Until then…GO HORNETS!

RW

BC…Again!?

Greetings from The Booth!

With SU Football on their bye last week, it was a chance for me to actually do some things this past weekend I wouldn’t normally have time for or wouldn’t fit into my game-week schedule. Our fearless leader here at The River 95-3, Andrew Shearer, doubles as a track/cross country coach at Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware, and his XC teams competed in the Hornet Harrier meet on Saturday at the beautiful Kernstown Battlefield. It was a gorgeous early Fall morning, so I accepted his invitation to attend the meet. There were pop-up tents from a number of colleges there, and the atmosphere was festive. Andrew’s’ GB Lightning Men finished a solid 4th, while the SU Women won their 6k race. So, a good morning on all fronts.

Then came Saturday night heartbreak. During Hornet football season, I don’t usually get to watch my WVU Mountaineers play football, because I’m either broadcasting an SU game, or in a car going to or coming from a game. The Mounties took #4 Oklahoma right down to the wire, before losing 16-13 on the road. A gallant effort by the Blue and Gold, but there are no moral victories, only W’s and L’s. Still, it was a rare treat to watch a West Virginia football game.

OK, on to Shenandoah University Football, and their next game, a Saturday night Homecoming contest against Bridgewater. The Eagles are a familiar foe and yes, we call them rivals, although on paper it doesn’t look like much of a rivalry. The Hornets won just 1 of the first 12 games of the series, but have gone 3-4 in the last 7 games against the Eagles, with 3 of those games coming in the 5-game “2020” Spring schedule earlier this year. Those 3 games were decided by fewer that 8 points, so the “rivalry” has been competitive in recent years.

One thing that will be different Saturday night is that longtime BC Head Coach Mike Clark will not be roaming the sideline. Clark hung up the headset and clipboard after the Spring season, handing the reins to Scott Lemn. Lemn, a former JMU lineman, has big shoes to fill, but is certainly familiar with the Bridgewater way of doing things, as he has been an assistant 11 years under Clark. BC traditionally doesn’t do anything fancy. They’ll run a multiple offense, play solid defense, and once in a while, run some trickery on special teams.

The Hornets will have to shake off the red zone woes of 2 weeks ago at Hampden-Sydney. They cannot afford to leave points on the table in what should be another tight game. SU will have to avoid the costly turnovers that plagued them in their 3rd meeting with BC back in the Spring, when the Eagles returned 2 interceptions for touchdowns for a quick 15-0 lead. I also expect the Shenandoah defense to play much better than they did 2 weeks ago against the Tigers.

If familiarity breeds contempt, there will not be much love on the Sprint Field Saturday night. As mentioned, the teams played 3 times in the Spring, are just an hour apart on I-81, and recruit the same areas. Throw in the fact that both Shenandoah and Bridgewater are 0-1 in the ODAC (and an 0-2 start with one less league game this season would take the loser effectively out of title contention) and you’ve got the makings of a hard-fought game. I see Shenandoah finding a way at home on Saturday night and prevailing 24-21.

Our broadcast begins at 6:30, with kickoff at 7 on the River 95-3. Until then…GO HORNETS!

RW

Hornets-Eagles III

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers
https://winchesterprinters.com

Greetings from The Booth!

There is a lot going on in the sports world right now. We’re down to the Final Four in college hoop, this week is Opening Day in MLB, and golf’s first major of the year, The Masters, is on the horizon. Although fan attendance is still limited at most sporting events, compare that to a year ago, when we were relegated to watching cornhole and ultimate frisbee on ESPN 8, The Ocho.

The ODAC Spring football season winds down this weekend with league-wide “playoff” games to determine where teams will finish in the standings. For the third time in five games, the Shenandoah Hornets will take on I-81 rival Bridgewater at Shentel Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

BC won the first of these matchups in February 27-21, while SU won a 19-18 thriller last week. By now, both teams know each other pretty well. If familiarity breeds contempt, there should be no love lost on Saturday afternoon on the Sprint Field.

As a footnote, this will be the last game for Bridgewater head Coach Mike Clark, who is retiring at the end of Saturday’s game. In his illustrious career, he has taken his BC team to the Stagg Bowl, and a National Semifinal, as well as being a thorn in our side year after year. Good luck, Coach, in your future endeavors (but not so much this weekend)!!!

And speaking of coaches, I had the chance this week to chat with SU Coach Scott Yoder, as he previews the Spring finale. Here is the entire interview. Catch our radio call Saturday starting at 4:30 on The River 95-3, and until next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!