WINCHESTER — The past month has been a struggle for Shenandoah University’s football team, but senior quarterback Hayden Bauserman and the rest of the Hornets put on a show in the team’s final home game of 2018 on Saturday afternoon.
Bauserman had a record-shattering day against Guilford, throwing for 578 yards and eight touchdowns, and an opportunistic defense forced five turnovers as SU rolled to a 62-47 Old Dominion Athletic Conference win on senior day.
“Today really showed how much talent we have as a whole group,” said Hornets junior receiver Casey Stewart, who had nine receptions for 166 yards and three touchdowns. “And it showed on both sides. We’ve been struggling the past month. We’ve been trying to work out the kinks, and we worked out the kinks. We just, over the weeks, have been focused on something else, focused not on what we do best. I think today we really stuck and attacked with what we do best and I think it showed on the scoreboard.”
Bauserman was spectacular in his final home game. He broke the ODAC record for career touchdown passes with his 35-yard strike to a wide-open Stewart in the first half, matched the conference record for touchdown tosses in a game and set new school records in passing yards and passing touchdowns in a game. He completed 45 of 59 pass attempts, didn’t thrown an interception and completed TD passes to five different receivers.
“He deserves it. He deserves all of it,” Stewart said of Bauserman’s big day. “The work that he’s put in in his four years here, it shows. For him to come out here today, on senior day, last home game, he’s emotionally invested and it showed in the best way possible today. I couldn’t be more proud of him and I’m happy for what he’s done for this school.”
Shenandoah (4-5, 2-4 ODAC) never trailed in the game, and after Bauserman’s record-setting touchdown pass to Stewart late in the second quarter never led by fewer than 15 points. Yet Guilford (3-5, 2-4), which out-gained SU 677-625 and scored 27 points in the fourth quarter, managed to hang around until Bauserman connected with Brant Butler for a 23-yard TD that put the Hornets up 62-40 with 2:48 to play.
An SU defense that had been gashed by the run over the past month largely bottled up Guilford redshirt-senior tailback De’Eric Bell, who had a season-low 71 yards on 18 carries, forcing Quakers sophomore quarterback Alex Manley to shoulder most of the load offensively.
Manley completed 28 of 53 passes for 546 yards and three touchdowns, hooking up frequently with receiver Juwan Houston (12 receptions, 208 yards, one TD), and ran 12 times for 47 yards, but the Hornets forced the sophomore QB into four interceptions and held the Quakers to just 2-for-14 on third down conversions.
Three of Guilford’s picks came in the end zone — Hornets safety Nate Hill had one in each half and cornerback Daquan Pridget, who also had two interceptions in the win to bring his season total to seven, had the other in the first quarter — and Shenandoah also forced and recovered a Bell fumble at the Guilford 49-yard line on the Quakers’ second play of the game. The Hornets turned that takeaway into their first points of the afternoon and ended up scoring 14 points off turnovers in the first quarter.
Guilford’s first three possessions ended with a turnover.
“Our ability to keep giving our offense the ball repeatedly in the first half was crucial,” said Hornets linebacker Tyler Williams, who had seven tackles (two for loss), a sack and forced the Bell fumble that was recovered by fellow linebacker Bernie Hayes. “All those picks in the end zone, the fumble, they were all momentum changers. Just keeping our offense on the field, giving our defense a break determined the momentum of the game.”
Shenandoah’s offense wasn’t flawless. The Hornets went three-and-out six times, dropped a handful of passes and lost two fumbles inside their own 25-yard line in the second half. SU also rushed for only 47 yards on 21 carries, but the Hornets didn’t need to run the ball with the way Bauserman was slinging it.
Seven of Bauserman’s touchdown passes went for 13 yards or more and three went for over 30 yards, including an impressive catch-and-run by senior receiver Jalen Hudson (eight receptions, 143 yards, two touchdowns) on a 39-yard score early in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets made up for their lack of a run game with their quick-hitting passing attack, which helped neutralize a Guilford defense that entered the game as the runaway ODAC leader in sacks. The Quakers had just one sack for 5 yards against SU.
“We were just better on the quick screens and passes, making plays,” Hornets head coach Scott Yoder said. “They were mixing some stuff up front, so our gap-scheme runs weren’t as good as we’d hoped they would be. They did a nice job but I thought (offensive coordinator Stan Hodgin’s) plan was fantastic and the kids executed it well.”
Shenandoah, which snapped a three-game losing streak with Saturday’s win, finishes its regular season with a road trip to Washington and Lee this weekend.
“I told the team after the game, and I mean it, that we have really great people in this program, and had that happened to any other team, where we had high expectations, we lost a couple, we got in a skid where we just couldn’t get out of our own way, a lot of other teams would’ve fell apart,” Yoder said. “They came to practice every day, they were mentally tough. Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t. But that’s what we have in our program and I appreciate that from them, and they deserve it. Now we’ve gotta go find a way to get one more.”