BC hopes quarterback Willie Logan breaks out of a two-game slump. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
BRIDGEWATER – Bridgewater College football coach Michael Clark does not see a complete mess when he looks at the game film of his team’s losses to Shenandoah and Hampden-Sydney.
Instead, he see’s little mistakes that have cost the Eagles dearly.
Against Shenandoah, BC could not protect quarterback Willie Logan, who was sacked six times. In last week’s rivalry game against the Tigers, it was a lack of the big play on the outside.
Clark insists the Eagles (3-2 overall, 0-2 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference) just need a spark.
“Right now, we just have to say you have to make plays,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of gasoline floating around on the sideline and somebody’s got to bring a match. That’s got to be our thought process right now.”
A loss today would probably eliminate the Eagles from serious ODAC title contention, all but ending their bid to return to the NCAA Division III playoffs after a seven-year drought.
BC will have a potentially difficult assignment at 1 p.m. today when it hosts Guilford (3-2, 2-0), a team coming off back-to-back wins over Washington & Lee and Shenandoah to begin ODAC play.
The Eagles could be without star wide receiver Cassidy Burns (knee). Burns missed practice three times this week and is questionable today. Starting defensive back Darrick Gore (concussion) also sat out practice on Thursday. Offensive linemen Joshua Giusto (knee) and Taylor Medrano (knee) also have missed games this season, while receiver Jayme Perry (knee) is out for the season with ligament damage suffered in the Ferrum game.
“If I’m Guilford and I’m a high-pressure defense, I’m not scared of what I’ve seen the past two weeks,” Clark said. “[Guilford] sees a team that in one game struggled to protect and next game on the perimeter. Nobody is going to hand it to you by showing up. You have to relax and make some plays.”
Making plays has not come easy for the Eagles the last two weeks. Against Hampden-Sydney, Clark counted six dropped passes in the 28-7 Tigers win. Two drops – one by tight end Michael Colee and another by receiver Jeff Moore – would have likely been touchdowns.
The atmosphere in practice this week has been relaxed, at least according to Logan. The senior from Luray has posted sub-par numbers over the last two games, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 459 yards with two interceptions.
If he is without Burns today, that takes away his biggest weapon.
“Everybody has to stay relaxed, and if you get worked up it’s not going to help the cause,” said Logan, who is focused on converting third downs and upping his completion percentage today. “We know we have to make plays this week, and we have the opportunity to do that.”
With Burns less than 100 percent, Logan will look to Moore and senior Cliff Woodard. Woodard, who got his first action this season against Shenandoah, has battled a foot injury that sidelined him all of last season. He has come on strong, catching five passes for 57 yards in his limited action.
Moore, however, has been the real beneficiary of teams focusing more on Burns. The 5-foot-7, 140-pound freshman has 12 catches for 155 yards in the last two games, including a fourth-quarter touchdown against Hampden-Sydney, the lone scoring play for the Eagles.
“He’s one of those instinctive kids,” Clark said. “I always use the line [that] sometimes you get those kids that can do Division I things in a Division III body, but he doesn’t have a Division III body right now, he has a high school body. To have that poor man’s Wes Welker in the slot, providing we get things on the outside to hold people accountable, you get an unexpected weapon.”
The Eagles will need all the offense they can get today as they face an offense that rolled over Shenandoah a week ago. The Quakers, led by sophomore quarterback Matt Pawlowski, defeated the Hornets 56-29 as Pawlowski connected on 26 of 31 passes for 360 yards and six touchdowns in three quarters. He was picked as the ODAC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.
“You talk about a man with confidence, he’s had confidence since he stepped on our campus a year ago,” Guilford coach Chris Rusiewicz said of his QB.
BC got a taste of what Pawlowski can do last season when he led a six play, 72-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter to defeat the Eagles 23-20 on a Thursday night in Greensboro.
Pawlowski killed the Eagles with his legs that night, and although he ran just eight times, three of those went for first downs and one was a touchdown.
“He extends plays, he’s tough to sack,” Clark said. “He had a great fourth quarter against us last year as a freshman. We just couldn’t tackle him. He gives you sometimes the toughest play to defend, that’s the broken play.”
The Quakers won their season opener against Greensboro before losing back-to-back games to Methodist and Averett by a combined 10 points. Guilford is scoring 32.8 points per game and averaging 440 yards per game – 245 passing, 195 rushing — with Pawlowski running the Quakers’ spread offense. Sophomore tailback Josh Schow leads the team with 702 yards rushing.
At 0-2 in the conference, the Eagles are ready for Guilford’s best shot.
“You better put your gloves on and throw a pretty good punch because you have to play against a good athletic team that also is bringing momentum and a really high self image,” Clark said.