BRIDGEWATER — A week ago, Bridgewater College welcomed a Ferrum team missing its top two running backs to Jopson Athletic Complex and held the Panthers to 180 yards offense and just 1.5 yards per carry.
Safe to say the challenge for the Eagles defense will be greater today at Washington & Lee.
The Generals (4-2, 3-1 Old Dominion Athletic Conference) are so deep in the backfield that Josh Breece, an All-American two years ago and coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, is sharing carries with a whole stable of backs. Breece has 317 yards this season on a team-high 66 carries, but six Generals have at least 36 carries this season and five have gained more than 200 yards on the ground.
“As a freshman, Breece broke [late Bridgewater standout] Davon Cruz’s records, his ODAC rushing records,” Eagles coach Michael Clark said. “And he did it in 11 games. The idea that they’ve got that kind of balance on that side of the ball, they can distribute it now. It doesn’t matter who is in there, it just clicks.”
But Garrett LeRose, in his second year as Washington & Lee coach, has begun to put his own stamp on the Generals traditional option attack with additions to the passing game. W&L has used three different quarterbacks effectively to throw for nearly 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns so far.
“They’ve done it efficiently,” Clark said. “We’re not playing somebody that can’t pass the football. They are smart, good athletes. Fast kids on the offensive side of the ball and for anybody to undersell them would be a mistake.”
But in some ways, Bridgewater’s speed across the defense may be equipped to handle the Generals, provided the defensive line can hold up to a different kind of blocking scheme than it has typically seen this season.
The Eagles (6-0, 4-0) come in leading the ODAC in scoring defense, allowing just 12 points per game, and hope to leave Lexington still atop the league standings with a place in the national rankings, where BC was No. 25 in the coaches poll this week.
But after a heartbreaking last-second loss last week to Emory & Henry, the Generals are looking at this game as a chance to avoid falling out of the ODAC championship picture all together.
“The way this schedule has worked out, we are playing tougher and tougher teams every week,” Bridgewater senior wideout Trey Stephens said. “We’ve got W&L and they will be ready and that’s where our focus is this week because it could be a tough one down there.”