Hornets send resounding message in rout of Emory & Henry

WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University’s football team has flipped the pecking order in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

The Hornets, playing at home for the first time in over a month, rolled through ODAC preseason favorite Emory & Henry in emphatic fashion with a 47-24 win in front of a crowd of 1,342 at Shentel Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Shenandoah is now 2-0 in the ODAC for the first time since joining the conference in 2012 and 4-1 overall for the first time in 13 seasons.

The Hornets, who toppled Randolph-Macon in their conference opener on Sept. 28, have beaten the ODAC’s preseason No. 1 and No. 2 selections in consecutive weeks – in convincing fashion – by a combined margin of 36 points.

Shenandoah was voted a distant last by conference coaches in the preseason ODAC poll. Hornets head coach Scott Yoder quipped after Saturday’s win that “apparently in the ODAC they read bottom-up,” while senior receiver Leonard Scott said they’re out to “prove everybody wrong.”

“We want to let everybody know in the ODAC, why did you pick us last?” SU junior receiver/running back Jalen Hudson said. “And we’re gonna let you pay for it.”

In what has quickly become the norm this season, Shenandoah junior quarterback Hayden Bauserman was stellar in an offense that churned out 603 yards against Emory & Henry (2-3, 1-1 ODAC), an output that ended just eight yards shy of matching the Hornets’ school-record performance against Macon a week and a half ago.

Bauserman set a new school record with 40 pass completions in 61 attempts while throwing for 495 touchdowns, five touchdowns and no interceptions. The 2014 Central High School graduated entered the contest leading Division III in passing yards per game (397.5).

Bauserman and the Hornets’ offense thrived behind a quick-hitting passing game that featured a heavy dose of screens and slants. Hudson said that game plan was put in place to take advantage of a Wasp defense that seemed to struggle making tackles in the open field, while Yoder added that the screens allowed SU to avoid negative plays against an attacking defense.

“Their defense was a very fast-flow defense,” said Bauserman, who threw touchdown passes of nine, 11, 10, 43 and 32 yards. “They flow to the ball and flow to movement, so you kind of run the screen and get them moving one way and then throw it back the other, get guys like Jalen out in space with only a couple guys in front him.”

Hudson’s big-play ability in the open field helped the Hornets re-energize after E&H cut their lead to 27-24 with a pair of quick touchdown drives early in the third quarter.

Facing a third-and-13 midway through the third, Bauserman found Hudson on a screen pass, and the shifty junior juked a pair of defenders behind the line of scrimmage before bolting up the right hash for a 43-yard touchdown to push the Hornets’ lead back to 10.

Hudson’s touchdown catch marked the start of a string of 20 unanswered points for SU to end the game.

“We just kept pushing, kept scoring,” said Hudson, who left the Macon game in the first half with back spasms but returned to catch six passes for 97 yards against the Wasps. “We couldn’t lack up, so we were like, ‘We gotta put the nail in the coffin.’ … We just put our foot on the gas and kept going.”

Shenandoah put the game out of reach with a pair of field goals from senior Jacob Newton and a 32-yard touchdown strike from Bauserman to Scott (93 yards receiving) with 9:44 to play.

Newton, who had battled injury for most of the previous two seasons, hit all four of his field goal attempts – two in each half – in Saturday’s win to set a new single-game school record. He connected on field goals of 31, 30, 32 and 25 yards.

“I think he’s as good as he’s been since his freshman year,” Yoder said. “He feels strong. He feels confident. He’s healthy. He missed one at Randolph-Macon and we talked about it after the game and it was an issue with his steps, just something technical. So I think he’s feeling really confident right now.”

The Hornets allowed 492 yards to Emory & Henry but put the clamps down after back-to-back Wasp scoring drives of 75 and 79 yards early in the third quarter ended with a pair of Kevin Saxton touchdown passes.

Emory & Henry’s last six possessions ended with two punts, two turnovers and two failed fourth-down conversions.

Shenandoah forced three turnovers in all – Nate Hill’s interception set up a Newton field goal at the end of the first half to send the Hornets into the break with a 27-10 lead – and had two sacks.

“I think we were able to get off the field,” Yoder said. “We put them in some negative situations where he had to punt it, he wasn’t gonna go for it, and made some nice tackles in the open field. Certainly the turnovers helped too. Once we got them chasing us a little bit we were able to get a little bit of a pass rush.”

Yoder added that SU’s ability to sustain its own offensive possessions, particularly in the first half, played a key role on an unseasonably warm afternoon. Three of the Hornets’ five first-half scoring drives lasted at least 11 plays.

Bauserman threw touchdown passes to five different players in the win and six different players had at least three receptions, with Mike Ashwell leading all receivers with 11 catches for 139 yards.

Casey Stewart (three receptions, 66 yards) caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first half – his fourth of the season – while Jake Wallace and senior Justin Ayres each grabbed their first TD reception of the season.

Wallace, a freshman, more than doubled his season catch total with five receptions in the win.

“When you throw in guys like that – and Justin Ayres is starting to come along a little bit, you throw him in there – it’s just an even deeper group that’s just continuing to get better every week,” Bauserman said of his receivers. “I have a lot of confidence in every single one of them, regardless of whether they’re freshmen or not. They’ve grown up kind of right in front of our eyes, really, and made some big plays.”

E&H head coach Curt Newsome said following his team’s loss that he didn’t expect Shenandoah’s offense to be as explosive with the graduation loss of Cedrick Delaney, the program’s all-time leading rusher, offering a possible glimpse as to why the Hornets didn’t garner much respect from opposing coaches in the preseason poll.

SU’s next shot to maintain momentum comes in a home game against rival Bridgewater next Saturday night.

“It’s not lost on our kids,” Yoder said of the preseason perception of his program. “They know what the deal is. And we’re a conservatory school, we’re not supposed to have a good football team. I mean that’s what everybody tells us.

“We’ve been through a lot and now we’re gonna coach differently as far as when was the last time we coached as far as don’t listen to people telling you that we’re good because we still have so much football to play? But it’s the ODAC, every week will be close. I mean, next you’ll get Bridgewater here and it’ll be a one- or two-score game. You know that. It’s just the way the series is. But we’re motivated and we’re pretty talented and we just gotta find a way to get a little bit better next week and see what we can do.”

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