No ‘O’ For Eagles
HAMPDEN-SYDNEY — Seventeen seconds into Saturday’s game against Hampden-Sydney, it was clear what kind of day it was going to be for the Bridgewater College football team.
H-SC’s Sidney Henry took a reverse handoff on the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, matching the number of points the BC offense would total all game in the Tigers’ 28-7 win at Lewis C. Everett Stadium.
It was the second straight loss for the Eagles (3-2), dropping them to 0-2 to start Old Dominion Athletic Conference play, a frightening reality for a team with playoff hopes just two weeks ago.
“Right now, there isn’t nowhere to go but up, and at the end of the day it’s a bottom-line business, we just got to make something happen,” quarterback Willie Logan said.
Bridgewater held Hampden-Sydney’s up-tempo spread attack to 333 yards on just 59 offensive plays on a soggy field, but like last week against Shenandoah, it was the BC offense that had trouble producing points.
Entering the game, BC coach Michael Clark stressed the importance of keeping up with Tigers quarterback Nash Nance and the H-SC offense. Clark said the game-plan was to control the clock and limit the number of possessions for Hampden-Sydney, which the Eagles did.
Points, however, were another issue.
“I think sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t totally define the effort or where you were at,” Clark said. “I thought we were trying to do the things we needed to do to win this game. From an offensive point of view, certainly what we do with the ball on their side of the 40 has to change, because ultimately it’s a game about points.”
“In the pre-game, I talked about I didn’t want to have to play from behind and I told our offensive people, ‘Don’t lose your patience.’ We all know this — offensive football isn’t about time of possession, it isn’t about plays, it isn’t about yardage, ultimately it becomes about points.”
The opening kickoff hurt the Eagles, but it was not a deathblow. After BC’s first drive stalled at the H-SC 47-yard line, the Tigers drove 87 yards on 10 plays, ending with a Nance to Holton Walker 8-yard touchdown pass.
Down 14-0, the Eagles had to go into passing mode. Although BC finished with 109 yards rushing, all but 64 of those came after the first two drives.
It was all part of H-SC’s game plan.
“They ran the ball well early, then we took it away,” Tigers coach Marty Favret said. “They ran a lot of negative plays, and Mike will be the first to tell you that they’re not a come-from-behind team, so I think the opening kickoff was huge and we controlled the tempo and it was easier than we thought.”
Logan got better protection than a week ago against Shenandoah (he was sacked six times in that game) but missed some deep passes early. One, an incompletion to receiver Cassidy Burns in the first quarter, likely would have gone for a touchdown.
“We took our shots early down the field a little bit, and we were already behind, and we needed one or two of those early and I missed a couple and that got us out of sync for the rest of the game,” said Logan, who finished 20-of-44 passing for 183 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown to Jeff Moore.
Nance, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, finished with a relatively modest 192 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Andrew Palmer led the BC defense with nine tackles, including three tackles for loss.
“Our defense held them to 21, and if you would’ve asked me tomorrow night if Hampden-Sydney’s offense scores 21 points, I would’ve told you that was a game that was decided in the fourth quarter,” Clark said.
This weekend, the Eagles host Guilford for homecoming, a game that has become a must-win if BC hopes to still contend for a long-shot conference title. Hampden-Sydney (4-1) is one of three teams 2-0 in ODAC play (along with Guilford and Randolph-Macon).
“You can look at it and say, ‘Is the cup half empty or is it half full?’ I think it’s 2/3 full,” Clark said. “That final third, sometimes that’s the toughest to finish, and that’s where we got to get a little better.”