Bridgewater comes up with key plays on both ends late to top Shenandoah, 27-21
After a 63-yard TD pass to Nick Rauchwarg to make it 24-21 BC, the Hornets got the ball back near midfield. A Brett Tharp tackle for loss on the first snap helped Bridgewater force a three-and-out. The Eagles then marched off 8:37 of game clock on 17 plays, with quarterback Noah Beckley converting a 4th-and-5 with a rush to the right sideline, and then a 4th-and-2 with a rush left. Cameron Gieseman was good from 27 yards out to give the Eagles a six-point gap.
Shenandoah drove across midfield win a chance to win however. With 42 seconds remaining, Tharp jumped in front of a Zachary Mathis pass up the seam to clinch the win for Bridgewater.
Tharp led the defense with nine tackles and a pass breakup to go with his crucial interception and TFL. Demetreus Jalepes rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries, and Derrick Jenkins caught seven balls for 72 yards- including a pair of TDs from Matt Lawton.
Two first half TD catches from Jenkins helped Bridgewater jump out to a 21-0 lead that was also aided by several costly Shenandoah penalties.
A deep pass interference call on third down extended the season’s opening drive, and Lawton bought time and found Jenkins coming back to the ball for a 24-yard score. A Hornet penalty for leaping on a punt extended another drive, and Beckley snuck it in from one yard out for a 14-0 lead.
In between, Shenandoah lost a would-be pick six when Viante Tucker chased down David Agyei, who fumbled the ball over the goal line before he could finish off a 48-yard return. The Hornets would also have a second half interception wiped away by a penalty.
Da’Sean Davis and Bryant Graham made consecutive sacks and Bridgewater then tipped the punt to take over possession at the SU 23 late in the first half. Lawton avoided pressure and hit Jenkins for the score and a 21-0 lead.
The Bridgewater defense had allowed just 18 first half yards before the final Hornet drive of the half, but Shenandoah did march 55 yards before the break to make it 21-7. The Hornets then cut the deficit to 21-14 in the third quarter after a turnover from a bad Bridgewater snap, with Gieseman’s 32-yarder giving the Eagles a 24-14 advantage heading to the final period.
In his final season, Michael Clark‘s 165th career victory sets a new ODAC record, breaking the mark of Emory & Henry’s Lou Wacker.
Bridgewater (1-0) will begin conference play next Friday at Randolph-Macon, in a rematch of the game that decided last year’s ODAC championship.