HARRISONBURG –Bridgewater College football coach Michael Clark said his team will treat its season finale Saturday like a playoff game.
It is official now: For the seventh straight year, the Eagles will indeed have to pretend.
BC’s 38-26 loss to Randolph-Macon on Saturday in Ashland officially eliminated the Eagles from contention for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship and an automatic berth in the Division III playoffs.
With Washington & Lee’s 45-42 overtime win over Hampden-Sydney, a victory for BC (6-3 overall, 3-3 in the ODAC) would have kept slim hopes alive for a share of the conference title. But with BC’s loss, W&L clinched its second ODAC championship in the last three years.
The Eagles have missed the playoffs every year since 2005, but Clark is more focused on making a one-game improvement from last year’s record 6-4 overall record. BC can also secure its 11th season of seven wins or more since 2000 with a win at Catholic this Saturday.
“Candidly, the scenario for us to get in [the playoffs] was a long shot, and we really never discussed that,” Clark said. “…What I tried to tell our kids is, the week coming up, this is our bowl game [against Catholic].”
He described Saturday’s game against Randolph-Macon (6-3, 4-2), which was also eliminated from the playoffs because of Hampden-Sydney’s loss to W&L, as “a tennis match where you weren’t going advantage-to-deuce; they had you down two.”
The Yellow Jackets scored the game’s first 10 points and expanded their lead to 31-13 with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter. In the battle of the ODAC’s top two teams in time of possession, Randolph-Macon held the ball for 36 minutes, 25 seconds and Bridgewater for 23:05.
“Every now and then you get into a game where you need to take advantage of every opportunity you get on offense to score, and we weren’t able to,” Clark said.
BC quarterback Willie Logan ran for a career-high 132 yards on 11 carries, including two touchdowns, and completed 22 of 41 passes for 244 yards and another score. Logan’s yards accounted for 84 percent of the Eagles’ offense.
The Eagles also got a 47-yard field goal from freshman Chandler DeHaven, tied for the fourth-longest make in BC history. That made it 24-10 at the half, and DeHaven knocked in a 34-yarder on BC’s second-half opening drive to make it 24-13.
But the Eagles were harmed by big plays early. R-MC quarterback Zac Naccarato’s 49-yard pass on third-and-17 set up a touchdown in the second quarter; on the Jacket’s next possession, tailback Will McGhee broke off a 92-yard touchdown run.
From there, BC was playing catch-up against what Clark said was a fierce wind and a Randolph-Macon team determined to eat up clock.
It was a losing battle.
“You catch a team and you’re on, you better be cranked up,” Clark said. “Randolph-Macon, they were on today.”