Sports Dogs Podcast: Talkin’ SU Football With Coach Yoder

In this week’s SDPC, it’s a conversation with Shenandoah University Head Football Coach Scott Yoder, who covers a variety of topics, including the heartbreaking loss to Ferrum, how the players have responded to it, the ups and downs of a freshman QB, and a look ahead to the Hornets’ next opponent, D-2 Emory & Henry.

Gut Punch

Greetings from The Booth!

Sometimes, you just get a feeling that things might not go your way. That was the case last Saturday as the Shenandoah Hornets took a trip to Ferrum College in search of a 5-1 start. The Panthers had a Homecoming crowd behind them, and were also 4-1. The winner of this ODAC matchup would be in a good position for the stretch run, and with one fewer conference game this season, this was a big game. With a win, the Hornets would be in prime position to control their own destiny, with games against Randolph-Macon and W&L looming on the schedule.

Sometimes you just get that ominous feeling. Even when SU went on top 13-0, there was that sense that we’d left some points on the table, and should have been ahead by a lot more. Those feelings were confirmed when Ferrum got back into the game and finally took a 14-13 third quarter lead. The game then went back and forth with several lead changes, with the Hornets taking a 23-21 lead with 1:47 left.

That proved to be too much time. The Panthers’ senior quarterback, Titus Jones, played like a senior and drove his team into field goal range (with the help of a killer pass interference call), where kicker Seth Deaton plunged the dagger into the Hornets’ hearts with a 35-yard game winning field goal with 3 seconds left.

Little things (and not so little things) add up in a football game. Settling for field goals and not touchdowns, the half ending with SU on the Ferrum 1-yard line with no points on the drive, a dropped TD pass, 2 key interceptions by a freshman QB who probably doesn’t make those throws next year, and an incompletion instead of running the clock down on the final Hornet drive, and the aforementioned PI call, all contributed to a gut punch and a long drive back to Winchester.

As was the case after the Hornets huge win over Bridgewater, one wonders how Shenandoah will be able to get up for the next contest. The non-conference game with now-D2 Emory & Henry means nothing in terms of ODAC standings, but means everything in terms of the Hornets’ collective psyche. Win or lose, it will be interesting to see what kind of fire the Hornets play with on Saturday. The loss against Ferrum will be tough to recover from.

But knowing the resilience of this group, Shenandoah will be ready to play Saturday when they host the Wasps. E&H is 4-2 and can score points in bunches. The two teams have had some shootouts in the past, but this season the Wasps boast a defense that gives up only 306 yards per game. Getting a “W” at Shentel Saturday will be a tall order for the Hornets, who will need to get up off the canvas and be ready to fight.

Air time Saturday is 12:30 with the Winchester Printers Hornet Pre-Game Show, followed by kickoff at 1. Until then, so long from The Booth, and GO HORNETS!


Getting The Job Done

Greetings from The Booth!

Don’t look now, but Shenandoah University Football is 4-1, and 2-1 in the ODAC, after a decisive 52-25 blowout at Guilford this past Saturday in Greensboro. If my broadcast partner Scott Musa is reading this, he will be happy to know that yours truly and my current sidekick DeShon Foxx (Scott is focusing on becoming a new Dad these days) kept a Hornet broadcast travel tradition alive with our usual stop at Mac N Bob’s in Salem on the way to North Carolina, and on the way home we enjoyed some Italian cuisine at Frank’s Pizza And Subs, where the calzone is the size of a starship. In between, the accommodations were first-class at the Sheraton Four Seasons. This play-by-play life is pretty good!

The trip was made all the better with a nice win by the Hornets in what was the classic “trap game.” The Quakers have had their challenges this season, having 2 games canceled due to COVID protocols, and doing the eye-test, SU was clearly the better team. That being said, Shenandoah was coming off an emotional Homecoming win against Bridgewater, and very well could have suffered a letdown.

But they didn’t. In their most prolific offensive output of the year, SU rolled to a 24-0 lead and never looked back. The Hornets piled up nearly 600 yards on the afternoon, and except for a very brief nervous stretch in the third period, dominated from wire-to-wire. Freshman quarterback Steven Hugney continues to impress as he matures, and was named ODAC Offensive Player Of The Week following his 5 TD performance (4 passing, 1 rushing). Rashadeen Byrd showed that he is one of the top backs in the ODAC with a 143-yard rushing day, and Wide Receiver Brandt Butler–oh, nothing. Just 5 catches for 143 yards and 2 scores. To put it simply, the Hornets took a business trip, and took care of business.

This week promises to be a little tougher, as SU heads back in the same direction on I-81 and US 220 to try and spoil the Homecoming Day of Ferrum. The Panthers will be a “tough out” for Shenandoah, and like SU, are 4-1 overall, their only loss to league power Randolph-Macon. Ferrum’s stats aren’t gaudy (they give up 25 points a game, while scoring about 24 per game) and all of their wins have been tight contests. As always, the Panthers have athletes who are capable of having big days, like dual threat quarterback Titus Jones. Jones should be a major focus of the Hornet defense this week.

I would expect nothing less than a very close contest this week in the hinterland of Virginia. The Homecoming atmosphere will be something that SU will have to deal with, and as with any even matchup on paper, turnovers will play a big part in determining a winner on Saturday. The second half of the season gets much tougher for Shenandoah, with W&L and Randolph-Macon, along with D-2 Emory & Henry looming on the schedule. So, Shenandoah cannot afford to take it’s eye off the ball this week, and I don’t think they will. In a tight contest, SU comes out on top 28-24 to go 5-1 and 3-1 and stay in the ODAC hunt.

Air time is 12:30 Saturday with the Winchester Printers Hornet Pre-Game Show. Enjoy the game, and GO HORNETS!