Big plays, missed chances burn Hornets against Hobart

WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University’s football game against Hobart College was overflowing with offense on Saturday night, but it was the missed scoring chances that loomed large for the Hornets.

WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University’s football game against Hobart College was overflowing with offense on Saturday night, but it was the missed scoring chances that loomed large for the Hornets.

Shenandoah piled up 575 yards in a shootout with the Statesmen while senior quarterback Hayden Bauserman threw six touchdown passes for the second straight game, but the Hornets also came up empty on two trips to the red zone – including one in the final three minutes of the game – in a 56-48 non-conference loss in front of a crowd of 1,186 at Shentel Stadium.

The game featured 1,076 yards of total offense, with Hobart racking up 501 yards and hitting big play after big play to outrun the Hornets, who were shut out in the fourth quarter.

“I felt like it was about missed opportunities,” SU head coach Scott Yoder said after falling to 0-2 against his alma mater. “It was obviously a ton of big plays on both sides. I mean it was the first one to 100, that’s what it felt like. … We had a chance, didn’t makes some plays. They made some plays, but I thought it comes down to missed opportunities.”

The biggest of those missed chances came in the final minutes of the game with the outcome hanging in the balance. Trailing by 8 points with 6:11 to play, Shenandoah (2-1) marched from its own 35-yard line to the Hobart 6 only to come up a yard short on a fourth-and-2 pass to receiver Jake Wallace with 2:45 remaining.

The Hornets’ offense got one final chance with 1:02 left but Wallace had the ball jarred loose after hauling in a pass over the middle and it fell right into the arms of Hobart linebacker Bryan Aguilar for the game-clinching fumble recovery. It was Shenandoah’s only turnover of the contest.

Hobart’s defense also held late in the first half, when Shenandoah recovered a fumbled kickoff at the Statesmen 25 but turned the ball over on downs at the 19 and went into halftime trailing 35-34.

“I knew that we were gonna have our hands full with that offense,” Statesmen first-year head coach Kevin DeWall said. “…Honestly we expected it to be a back-and-forth game, hoping that we were gonna get a couple stops, and they were timely stops. We didn’t get a ton of stops but they were timely stops, so I give credit to our defense coming up at the end, and really all three phases on finding ways to answer on really what was a back-and-forth game all along.”

Bauserman turned in yet another record-setting performance for Shenandoah, as he completed 46 of 64 passes for 471 yards and broke his own school record for completions in a game. The senior spread his six touchdown passes among four different receivers, and sophomore Jake Wallace had a career night with 14 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

But even Bauserman’s best wasn’t enough to carry the Hornets, who surrendered a slew of big plays on defense and another on special teams. Hobart (2-1) had six of its eight touchdowns go for 26 yards or more, and three of those went for 70-plus yards, including a 95-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.

And the Statesmen always had an answer for a Shenandoah score.

After the Hornets opened the game with a 12-play, 64-yard touchdown drive, Hobart countered with Alex Milliken’s 70-yard TD run on its first offensive play to take a 7-6 lead.

When SU cut the deficit to 21-20 with a 65-yard drive early in the second quarter, the Statesmen responded with Ryan Hofmann’s 75-yard touchdown pass to Jake Catalioto on its next offensive snap. Shahkyle Matthews’ kickoff return TD answered Wallace’s first touchdown grab of the night later in the quarter.

Following the third TD catch for Wallace – who had scoring grabs of 31, 30 and 10 yards – in the third quarter that gave SU a 41-35 lead (it’s first since the opening drive), Hobart came back with a two-play drive that spanned 49 yards and ended with Hofmann’s 38-yard pass to Ray Conley to reclaim the lead.

When Shenandoah went back on top on Austin Ward’s 5-yard touchdown catch late in the third, the Statesmen went 68 yards on three plays and took the lead for good on Brian Haeffner’s 32-yard run.

“I bet you I missed half of their scoring plays because we were trying to make an adjustment or have a conversation (on the sideline),” Yoder said.

Shenandoah, which ran 98 offensive plays – nearly twice as many as Hobart (52) – in the loss, matched the Statesmen score for score for most of the contest and never trailed by more than 8 points. The Hornets – who attempted and failed on a 2-point conversion attempt following the game’s opening TD – took the lead twice in the second half only to watch Hobart snatch it right back.

“Obviously it’s a little frustrating but they’re a high-powered offense too. This game wasn’t gonna be won 7-0 and we knew that,” Bauserman said. “… I told the guys on the sideline, this is fun, this is what we want as an offense. You wanna go out there and be on the field and score as many points as you can and be out there all night. …You’re out there playing the whole time, playing down to the wire. Fun environment and just a fun game to play.”

Hofmann completed 18 of 24 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns for Hobart, with Catalioto hauling in seven catches for 168 yards and a TD. The Statesmen averaged 9.6 yards per play and 18.2 yards per pass completion.

“They actually challenged us,” DeWall said of Shenandoah’s defense. “They put extra guys in the box trying to stop the run game, and when you do that you’re gonna be more susceptible to those (big) plays. Their defense, they’re used to seeing passing offenses in their conference. I don’t think we surprised them, I just think it was just a matter of, hopefully, some timing opportunities where our guys were able to have some clearance on the back end. And I thought Ryan Hofmann played pretty well, put the ball in the right spots and gave our receivers and tight ends a chance to make some plays.”

Jalen Hudson had 10 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown for Shenandoah, while Casey Stewart caught two passes for 62 yards and a score. Tailback Mario Wisdom had 14 carries for 51 yards to lead a Hornets running game that finished with 104 yards on 34 carries.

Linebackers Bernie Hayes III and Tyler Williams each had seven tackles to lead SU.