Hornets continue slide in blowout loss to Emory & Henry

WINCHESTER – For the first time in his three years as the head football coach at Shenandoah University, Scott Yoder felt the Hornets simply weren’t ready to play.

In the midst of another disappointing late-season slide, SU’s struggles against Old Dominion Athletic Conference competition continued Saturday afternoon against visiting Emory & Henry. The Hornets stumbled mightily on both sides of the football as Emory & Henry rolled to a 54-21 victory in front of a crowd of 1,597 at Shentel Stadium.

“Hands down we just were not ready to play football,” Yoder said shortly after his team fell to 4-5 overall and 1-5 in the ODAC. “You can point to some things here, some things there and some turnovers and some of this, but it just came down to – this is probably the first time since I’ve been here that I felt like, we got out and we were flat and we weren’t prepared. And it’s my job to get us prepared and ready to play every Saturday, and we were not.”

The Wasps (6-3, 4-2 ODAC) rolled up 631 yards of offense, including 301 yards rushing, marking the third straight game Shenandoah has allowed at least 200 yards on the ground. Emory & Henry averaged 6.9 yards per play. The Wasps were 14 for 17 on third-down conversions.

“It felt like we didn’t take anything away,” Yoder said. “We didn’t slow down the run. We couldn’t pressure the passer and we weren’t playing tight enough coverage. We didn’t take anything away to make them get out of their comfort zone.”

Shenandoah’s offense, meanwhile, mustered only 51 yards in the first half (the Hornets trailed 47-7 at halftime) and committed two costly turnovers in the first two quarters that led to 14 Emory & Henry points. The Hornets finished the night with 300 yards of offense, though they managed only 81 yards rushing.

In last season’s meeting, Hornets running back Cedrick Delaney gashed Emory & Henry for an ODAC record 321 yards rushing. Wasps head coach Curt Newsome said Saturday that Emory & Henry’s defense keyed on preventing Delaney from getting on the edge while also putting in “a lot of time” working on defending the inside trap, which SU ran to great success against E&H last season.

Delaney was limited to 81 yards on 26 carries (3.1 yards per rush) on Saturday.

“Actually they, for real, just knew where the ball was going every play, basically,” said Delaney, who also had 35 yards receiving. “If I lined up on one side they would switch and shift over. All their guys would float to the ball so it was really hard to get anything … running-wise.”

The rout began almost immediately. Following a three-and-out on the Wasps first possession, SU immediately turned the ball over on its first play from scrimmage, as Hayden Bauserman’s pass was picked off by Emory & Henry linebacker Rennel Marshall and returned 39 yards to the Hornets’ 1. Sam Wagner plunged into the end zone on the next play to give the Wasps a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

Delaney said he’d noticed some SU players appear to “just not care about the season anymore” during the team’s recent slide, which has seen the Hornets lose five of their last six and three straight, and the quick deficit did little to remedy that attitude.

“After that first play some people like gave up, like ‘oh, here we go again,’ basically,” Delaney said.

Emory & Henry came right back on its next possession with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Chris Thompson’s 4-yard touchdown run. On the Wasps’ next offensive play after a Shenandoah punt, E&H quarterback Kevin Saxton found a mismatch with receiver Tyree Ward being covered by Hornets inside linebacker Michael Messick, and Ward (3 catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns) raced past Messick down the middle of the field, hauling in an 80-yard touchdown catch to put the Wasps up 20-0.

Wasps defensive lineman Davon Keith scooped up a fumble by SU backup quarterback Travis Barton Jr. and returned it for a touchdown later in the opening frame to put SU in a 26-0 hole with 1:53 left in the first quarter.

SU got on the board on the following kickoff as Delaney returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown, but Emory & Henry closed the first half with three more unanswered scores.

Two second-quarter touchdown runs by Wasps running back Isaiah Rodgers sandwiched a 5-yard scoring pass from Saxton to Ward to give Emory & Henry a comfortable 40-point lead at halftime while out-gaining SU 449-51 in the first half.

“I think this is the best football game we’ve played all season, bar none,” Newsome said.

The Wasps used Saxton and freshman Dominic Dunnaville interchangeably at quarterback, a venture from the norm for E&H, according to Newsome. Saxton, used primarily in passing situations, completed 18 of 28 passes for 294 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

Thompson carried 15 times for 129 yards, while Rodgers had 87 yards on 17 carries. The Wasps averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

“I think we knew what they were gonna run, they just shoved it down our throats,” said Messick, who had 14 tackles to lead SU. “We started fast and then fell downhill right when they made one big play. And after that it just got ugly.”

Bauserman completed 20 of 38 passes for 219 yards for Shenandoah, while throwing fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Qlyl Middelijn and Miles Green.

Shenandoah ends its 2015 season with a 1 p.m. home game against Washington and Lee next Saturday.

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