Bauserman shines in debut as Hornets rout Bison

Hayden Bauserman

WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University’s coaching staff wanted to ease freshman quarterback Hayden Bauserman into his first college football start. The 2014 Central High School graduate couldn’t have asked for a much better situation Saturday night against visiting Gallaudet.

Bauserman didn’t attempt his first pass until the Hornets’ second drive of the game, and by that point Shenandoah held a 14-point advantage. His second pass went for a touchdown, and Bauserman ended up completing 13 of 23 passes for 142 yards, two touchdowns and an interception as the Hornets rolled to a 51-6 victory in front of a crowd of 2,219 at Shentel Stadium.

Shenandoah’s 51 points were the most since the team scored 54 against Chowan in 2003, and Saturday marked just the second time in the program’s history the Hornets scored at least 50 points.

“It was awesome,” Bauserman said of the Hornets’ quick lead, which included an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore cornerback Weldon Gilchrist. “It took a lot of pressure off me to be able the hand the ball off the first drive and score a touchdown, then have the defense get a pick-six and to be up 14 points before I ever have to attempt a pass.”

With Shenandoah (1-0) holding a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, Bauserman extended the Hornets’ second drive of the game with a completion on his first collegiate pass attempt, when he converted a third-and-8 with a 28-yard strike to Deshon Brown, who made a diving grab on a slant over the middle at the Gallaudet 13-yard line.

On the next play, Bauserman found tight end Miles Green wide open in the flat, and Green slipped out of an ankle tackle at the 7 before finding the end zone to give the Hornets a 21-0 lead late in the opening quarter.

Bauserman’s best throw of the night came two drives later, when he dropped a pass between a pair of Bison defenders into the arms of sophomore receiver Leonard Scott, who made a leaping over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown that put Shenandoah up 28-0 with 9:44 left in the second quarter.

“They were in cover 3 so I had two seams going down the middle of the field,” said Bauserman, who completed his first seven passes. “I tried to look the safety off. He didn’t really move as much as I wanted him to but Leonard had the kid beat and I just tried to put it up over the first defender, but I didn’t want to hang it too long to get Leonard killed in the end zone. I just tried to kind of throw a ball in between and it worked out perfectly. He made a great play on the ball and to beat the kid off the ball was big, too. All the credit really goes to him.”

Shenandoah opened the game with a 50-yard march to the end zone that ended with Cedrick Delaney’s 4-yard scamper into the end zone, but Gallaudet looked primed to answer with a promising drive on its first possession.

Ditching the triple-option offense this season in favor of the pistol to better fit its personnel, Gallaudet methodically marched 50 yards on its opening possession down to the SU 25, a drive that saw quarterback Ramon Johnson attempt six passes.

Hornets head coach Scott Yoder, who also serves as the team’s defensive coordinator, said he was surprised to see the Bison passing consistently on their opening drive.

“I thought we were gonna see more option. I really (did),” Yoder said. “But they threw the ball well and they were doing things against us to hurt us and you saw that in the first two drives when they put some things together.”

Momentum quickly swung back in favor of the Hornets, however, when Johnson, under mild pressure from Shenandoah’s pass rush, attempted to throw a pass away and instead floated a pass that was easily snatched out of the air by Gilchrist. The sophomore raced down the sideline, getting help on a block by linebacker Javonte Rose, for the 80-yard touchdown return.

“The ball was hung up. I knew the receiver was behind me, I didn’t even look back for him,” Gilchrist said. “I just waited for it to come down, caught it at the highest point and after that saw one of my teammates. It was to the end zone after that.”

Johnson completed 14 of 22 passes for 162 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, and Bison head coach Chuck Goldstein said the freshman was “overwhelmed” in his first start.

Shenandoahs’ defense, led by senior linebacker Michael Messick’s 13 tackles, limited Gallaudet (0-1) to 220 yards, including just 54 yards rushing on 32 carries (1.7 yards per rush).

Yoder said Shenandoah’s early lead allowed the defense to effectively bring pressure and “put the clamps down on them.”

Bauserman’s lone mistake came on his final pass attempt of the night in the third quarter when his third-down pass was picked off by Gallaudet linebacker Ryan Santana and returned 17 yards to the Shenandoah 25. The Bison found the end zone three plays later on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Lawrence Watson.

Yoder said Bauserman’s performance was “exactly what we thought and hoped” it would be on Saturday night.

“I know he didn’t play a perfect game but a couple of those throws and those plays, that’s what we’ve been waiting to see and it’s really going to help our offense,” Yoder said.

Shenandoah finished with 407 yards of offense, including 243 yards rushing. Delaney, the top rusher in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference last season, led all players with 95 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown, while senior running back Kye Hopkins added 30 yards rushing and a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Shenandoah backup quarterback Travis Barton completed all four of his pass attempts for 22 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com