WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University’s up-tempo, pass-heavy offense necessitates depth at the receiver position, and the Hornets are best when quarterback Hayden Bauserman has plenty of targets at his disposal. Jake Wallace took his turn Saturday night as the star QB’s go-to guy.
Wallace, a sophomore, caught 14 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns in Shenandoah’s 56-48 loss to Hobart at home, easily his best single-game performance in his young college career. It was such a stellar performance, in fact, that Hornets head coach Scott Yoder couldn’t help but crack a smile even after his team lost a shootout to his alma mater to drop to 2-1 on the season.
“Oh my goodness,” Yoder said as he glanced at Wallace’s receiving totals on Saturday night, “the kid is so good.”
Saturday was a breakout performance for Wallace, a Virginia Beach native who had more receiving yards and more touchdown catches against Hobart than he did his entire freshman season in 2017. Wallace, who had 20 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown in nine games last season, matched the school record for receptions and TD grabs in a single game, and his 195 yards ranks second on Shenandoah’s all-time list.
“This is my biggest game in college, for sure,” said Wallace, whose previous best single-game performance came against Guilford last season when he had six receptions for 73 yards. “It definitely builds my confidence in what I can do on the field, so I’m definitely just gonna look to make more plays and catch the ball.”
Bauserman, who completed 46 of 64 passes for 471 yards and six touchdowns against Hobart, turned to the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Wallace frequently on Saturday and targeted the sophomore 19 times, often in situations where SU needed a completion.
The duo’s first two touchdown connections of the night went for 31 and 30 yards in the second quarter, both times as Wallace found a hole in the Hobart defense along the right hash.
On Wallace’s first TD grab, Bauserman lofted a pass over a Hobart linebacker and into the hands of Wallace, who had a Statesmen defensive back hanging onto his ankle at the 2-yard line and lunged across the goal line to cut Hobart’s lead to 28-27.
The pair hooked up again to cut the Statesmen’s lead to 1 point on the next drive, with Wallace dancing around a pair of defenders at the 5-yard line and strolling into the end zone.
“They were playing a lot of cover three so the safety had to make a decision,” Wallace, who has 25 receptions for 316 yards and four TDs this season, said, “and me and Hayden were pretty much on the same page, with just me cutting across in the middle between the safeties and just getting in the end zone.”
Wallace also hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass on a slant route in the third quarter, capping a 12-play, 67-yard drive to open the second half that gave Shenandoah a 41-35 lead. He averaged 13.9 yards per reception and had four catches go for 20 or more yards.
Wallace’s lone hiccup came on his final reception of the night when he took a well-timed shot from a Statesmen defender as he secured a catch over the middle in the game’s final minute and lost the ball, leading to Hobart’s game-clinching fumble recovery.
“Jake’s a really good receiver and hadn’t gotten a whole lot of touches up to this point, up until tonight,” said Bauserman, who noted that much of Hobart’s defensive focus rested on another SU slot receiver, senior Jalen Hudson. “… He’s a smart football player. Kind of reminds me of (former Hornet) Mike Ashwell – not overly athletic, not overly fast or physical like that but just a really smart player. Just gets the job done and went out there and played really well and played hard.”