WINCHESTER — It was only fitting that the most prolific passer in Shenandoah University history would save his best performance for his final home game.
Senior quarterback Hayden Bauserman, who owns every significant passing record at SU, dazzled fans at Shentel Stadium one final time on Saturday afternoon against Guilford, throwing for 578 yards and eight touchdowns in an effort that broke all kinds of records.
Bauserman became the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s all-time leader in career passing touchdowns in the first half. He also matched the conference’s record for touchdown passes in a single game and set new school records in passing yards and passing touchdowns in a game in the Hornets’ 62-47 win.
“It’s that Cinderella ending kind of thing,” Hornets linebacker Bernie Hayes III said of Bauserman’s home finale. “Especially him getting eight (touchdown passes) and wearing number eight. It’s kind of one those things you only see in movies.”
The script was set for Bauserman, a Central High School graduate and Woodstock native. Of course he was going to become the ODAC record-holder in front of his home crowd, on the field that’s lies just 30 minutes north of his hometown, in front of his family, who celebrated the final time he would step foot on the Shentel Stadium turf for a game, against the team whose former QB held the previous record.
Bauserman needed three touchdowns to match the 124 touchdown passes thrown by Guilford’s Josh Vogelbach a decade earlier. He tied the mark early in the second quarter, broke it with 4:13 left in the first half and added four more TD tosses on top of it for good measure, matching Vogelbach’s single-game record set in 2007.
“It’s something that I’ll never forget,” Bauserman said. “If I had a game like this my junior year it would’ve been special as well, but just going out on senior day with all the guys, last time we’re playing at Shentel, last time we’re at home. This place has meant so much to me, and just to be able to go out and put up those kind of numbers — in a win, which means the most — it’s something that I’ll never forget. I’ll be able to come back here for the rest of my life and remember those moments.”
Of the 129 touchdown passes Bauserman has thrown, No. 125 might have been the easiest.
On a first-down play from Guilford’s 35-yard line, with Shenandoah leading 21-13, Bauserman made a pre-snap check at the line. Junior receiver Casey Stewart beat Guilford freshman cornerback Will Kilgo at the snap and was left all alone down the sideline (Stewart would say after the game he thought Kilgo tripped on Stewart’s foot). Bauserman easily hit his receiver in stride for the 35-yard scoring toss.
“The play before, (Guilford linebacker Trevon Simmons) was outside the hash and played over the top, so it was a little line-drive throw,” Bauserman said. “I thought he was gonna do the same thing but pre-snap, when I changed the play he moved to toward the middle of the field, so I knew I had a true one-on-one with Casey, and when the ball was snapped, (Kilgo) didn’t move his feet. I mean he got his hands on but it looked like he was almost playing a cover 2 like he was the play before and he didn’t move his feet and Casey beat him, made a good move and went and got the ball.”
That touchdown pass, the second of three to Stewart in the win, put Shenandoah up 28-13 and the Hornets never led by fewer than 15 points the rest of the way. Bauserman made sure of that, finding Stewart again for a fifth TD pass with 25 seconds left in the first half and adding three more scores in the second half, the last coming on a 22-yard strike to Brant Butler with 2:48 to play.
Bauserman did it all while successfully managing the emotions surrounding senior day, which featured a pregame ceremony to honor Shenandoah’s 12 seniors.
“I was definitely emotional and some other guys were,” he said. “We kind of talked about it before the game, were we gonna cry or whatever. I held it together pretty well until I saw my family down on the field, lost it a little bit and brought the composure back. You know, it was just kind of a different energy today, just the way it felt in the locker room. Guys were locked in and ready to play, and I think the underclassmen were kind of ready to send us out the right way. We played really hard, had a good game plan and executed.”