BRIDGEWATER – Coaches around the Old Dominion Athletic Conference won’t want to admit it quite yet, but last weekend inched us closer to a de facto league title game between Bridgewater and Randolph-Macon.
But each has one more tough test in front of them this week before they meet in Bridgewater on Nov. 9. The Eagles and Yellow Jackets remain the only two teams with perfect conference records, but BC must head to Emory & Henry to face a red hot Wasps team while Randolph-Macon faces a Washington & Lee team that is a bit stung following consecutive losses, but one still talented enough to cause problems for the Yellow-Jackets.
“That’s back-to-back weeks playing really talented defenses,” W&L coach Garrett LeRose said. “Next week we’ll play another one. It’s just a really talented league overall.”
The rest of the ODAC has continued to establish a pecking order out with no major changes or surprises this time with just a few weeks left in the regular season.
With that, here’s this week’s Daily News-Record ODAC Power Rankings:
1. Bridgewater College (7-0, 5-0 ODAC)
The Eagles are ranked No. 25 again in Division III coaches’ poll, after what is arguably their most impressive victory of the season. Bridgewater’s defense gave up two long scoring plays in the first half, but otherwise completely shut down a Washington & Lee team that was averaging almost 500 yards per game. Jay Scroggins continued to be nearly perfect at quarterback and Bridgewater just keeps rolling. Saturday presents a challenge, so the Eagles won’t want to be caught looking ahead to Randolph-Macon.
NEXT: Saturday at Emory & Henry
2. Randolph-Macon (6-1, 5-0)
The Yellow Jackets had the weekend off, which means they are now officially tied with Bridgewater at the top of the ODAC standings. A week off and the Bridgewater game film to look at may provide an advantage to the conference’s second-best scoring defense as they try to shut down a Washington & Lee team that can mix the pass in with the run. If R-MC can make it seven victories in a row since the opening loss to Johns Hopkins, it sets up a potential barnburner for the league title.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Washington & Lee
3. Emory & Henry (5-2, 4-1)
The Wasps have certainly made it interesting the past two weeks. They came from behind to beat Washington & Lee on a last-second Hail Mary, then held off a furious second-half rally from Shenandoah last weekend. Either way, that’s not five straight wins for Emory & Henry and if it can make it six then it opens up the possibility of some interesting tiebreaker scenarios at the top of the ODAC standings. Athletic receivers Max and Derek Yates present a different kind of challenge for the Bridgewater secondary this time around.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Bridgewater
4. Washington & Lee (4-3, 3-2)
The Generals still appear to be one of the most talented teams in the ODAC, but in the middle of a brutal stretch in the schedule, they are victims of both some bad luck and bad timing following two straight losses. Washington & Lee will need to reignite its offense after what was a fairly embarrassing performance against Bridgewater and Randolph-Macon presents a similar challenge. Dual-threat quarterback Jack Pollard took some shots last week, but if he can get going in Ashland the Generals may have a shot at ending the losing streak and keep a shot at a share of the league title alive.
NEXT: Saturday at Randolph-Macon
5. Shenandoah (4-3, 2-3)
The Hornets nearly pulled off a huge second half rally at Emory & Henry, one that could have really shaken things up in the top half of the ODAC, but in the end Shenandoah stays just a notch below the top tier of the conference. But the Hornets have a shot to pull even in league play this weekend against Ferrum team that has also had some ups and downs, but pulled off a solid win over the weekend. Shenandoah will need to limit turnovers after throwing four interceptions at Emory.
NEXT: Saturday at Ferrum
6. Ferrum (3-4, 2-5)
Ferrum’s defense did as good a job slowing Southern Virginia’s running game and leading rusher Akiva Wedge as anybody has all season. The Panthers also turned to their own passing game with injuries in the backfield still a concern. Zack Clifford threw for three touchdowns as Ferrum rebounded from the blowout loss at Bridgewater by getting back into the win column.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Shenandoah
7. Southern Virginia (2-5, 1-5)
The Knights, newcomers to the ODAC, have lost five straight, including a close one to Ferrum on Saturday. Still, overall Southern Virginia has a running game that can give teams trouble and a defense that can usually limit the opposition enough to stay in games. We will soon find out if the Knights deserve the No. 7 spot with a game against Guilford coming up. Southern Virginia will need Akiva Wedge to rebound from last week’s game in which he was held to less than 60 yards on the ground.
NEXT: Saturday vs. Guilford
8. Guilford (2-5, 1-4)
After some close calls, the Quakers got back in the win column behind a huge game from wide receiver Jermain Russell to lead Guilford past Hampden-Sydney. Russell had three touchdowns, one on a kick return as the Quakers pounced on Hampden-Sydney early before closing the door in the fourth quarter.
NEXT: Saturday at Southern Virginia
9. Hampden-Sydney (1-7, 0-6)
The Tigers are now alone in the cellar after dropping their sixth straight conference game to a Guilford team that had also had its struggles this season. Hampden-Sydney even kept its turnovers in check for the first time this season and outgained the Quakers, but still couldn’t manage the victory in what has become a hugely disappointing season for the Tigers.
NEXT: Nov. 9 vs. Ferrum