WINCHESTER – One bright spot for Shenandoah University’s football team on Saturday was the play of freshman Rahsadeen Byrd Jr.
The running back had his second straight strong game for the Hornets, which could help give the team a more balanced offense.
“It felt good running the ball,” Bryd said after Saturday’s 45-14 loss to Randolph-Macon College. “It felt like we were getting a lot more progression in the ground game.”
Byrd finished the game with 82 yards rushing on 14 carries, and most of the yardage came in the first half when the game was still competitive. Bryd had 60 yards on 11 carries in the first half, while Shenandoah’s passing game had 77 yards in the opening half.
That could be a sign of a balanced attack that would help the Hornets in the future. Shenandoah (3-3, 1-2 ODAC) entered Saturday’s game averaging 149.6 yards per game on the ground and 375.2 yards through the air.
Byrd said he feels like an improved running game would be a big boost for the offense.
“I think it will open up more of the passing game,” he said. “Teams will have to play us more true to the run because we do have a pretty decent backfield. And once they start respecting the run game more, it will open a lot more for (Shenandoah quarterback) Hayden (Bauserman) backside.”
Shenandoah University head coach Scott Yoder said that Byrd gives the team another option to go to in a high-powered offense.
“I think the way our offense is, it’s who’s got the hot hand?” Yoder said. “And I think that just gives us another weapon in the arsenal. So I think his maturity and him developing will help our offense.”
Byrd ran for 129 yards on six carries in a 59-34 victory over Hampden-Sydney on Oct. 5 and now has 379 yards rushing on 54 carries this season to lead the team.
Bryd said his teammates have helped him gain more confidence as the year has gone on.
“I just needed an extra boost from my team,” Byrd said. “They’ve been encouraging me since camp, telling me that I’m a player and I can do this and once I get clicking, it will go. And without them, I couldn’t do it.”
Byrd said the blocking of the offensive line and the receivers make his job easier.
“I have no excuse not to get good yardage every single play,” he said.
Bryd not only had a solid running game against Randolph-Macon, but he also had a touchdown reception on a 33-yard pass from Bauserman. He also had 54 yards on kickoff returns. Byrd led the team in all-purpose yards with 168.
Yoder said he’s excited to see what the future holds for Byrd.
“Rashadeen is a really, really good football player,” Yoder said. “He showed that last week. He showed that in the beginning part of the season. And we leaned on him heavy this week. And he does a nice job of being patient and then sticking his foot in the ground with some explosions. I think there’s going to be big things ahead for that young man.”