BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Last week on the gridiron, the Bridgewater Eagles and Emory & Henry Wasps each earned victories, albeit in completely different ways, but both teams will enter this afternoon's contest off of a key conference win.
Bridgewater and Emory & Henry will be meeting for the 39th time on Saturday, continuing a series that began in the 1920 season. The Wasps own a 27-10-1 advantage in the all-time series, but the Eagles have won four the last five meetings, including each of the past three matchups. E&H's last win in the series came in 2008 when the Wasps made the trip north up I-81 and recorded a 19-14 victory. Last season, Bridgewater scored 21 unanswered points to erase a 14-6 second quarter deficit on its way to a 27-14 win in Emory.
Last week, the Bridgewater Eagles turned in their best performance in quite some time in a 31-14 victory over the then-conference leading Generals of Washington and Lee. Bridgewater fired on all cylinders on both sides of the ball and limited the nation's best rushing offense to its lowest rushing total in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) play and held the visiting Generals to their lowest scoring output since the 2010 season. Bridgewater was the first opponent this season to never trail the Generals.
With the win, Bridgewater still clings to the hope of hoisting the program's seventh conference championship.
On the other side of the field, the Wasps enter this weekend's game on a high after last weekend's come-from-behind victory over the Catholic Cardinals. The Wasps used a late interception and a quick drive to move into field goal range before kicker Matt Turchin punched a kick through the uprights to hand Emory & Henry a 15-14 victory.
After slowing down the nation's top rushing attack a week ago, the Eagles defense will have to switch gears quickly as they face a pass-happy Emory & Henry offense. The Wasps are averaging over 250 yards per game through the air, but have the ODAC's worst rushing offense, averaging just north of 104 yards per outing.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior quarterback Kyle Boden engineers a Wasps offense that ranks in the top three of the league in nearly every passing category. Boden enters this afternoon's contest averaging 232 yards per game, but has been intercepted six times on the season.
Sophomore running back Joe Vaughn has taken the bulk of the load for Emory & Henry, rushing for 527 yards on 120 carries.
Boden has targeted a dozen different players on the season, led by 37 receptions from sophomore Chad Williams. Williams also adds four touchdowns to the mix for the Wasps.
Defensively, the reigning ODAC Defensive Player of the Week Ross Ellis paces the way for a solid Emory & Henry unit. Ellis recorded 10 stops, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in last week's victory over Catholic. On the year, Ellis has 62 stops including seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Junior Willie Logan turned in one of his best overall performances of his young career last weekend in Bridgewater's 17-point win over Washington and Lee. Logan completed 21 of his 26 passes, including six in a row on the game-winning touchdown drive as part of a 280-yard effort through the air. On the year, Logan's thrown 10 touchdown passes against four interceptions, with two of his picks coming on half-ending Hail Mary's.
Sophomore Jacob Wright continues to be the workhorse in the Bridgewater backfield. Wright's bolted for 571 yards on 107 carries and adds three touchdowns.
Fifteen different receivers have hauled in a pass from Logan, paced by tight end Michael Colee's 20 grabs on the year. Colee scored his first career touchdown in last weekend's win over the Generals.
Defensively, the Eagles have continued to impress all season long despite having youth behind the front six. Junior Andrew Palmer leads the Bridgewater defense with 57 tackles on the season. The Eagles defense leads the league in points allowed per game (14.7) and yards allowed per game (302.1).
Kickoff at Jopson Field is set for 1 p.m. Fans at the game will have an opportunity to be selected to participate in a halftime contest to win a brand new 2013 Nissan Altima from Staunton Nissan and Subaru.
Tickets for Saturday afternoon's matchup are available at a cost of $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for students. Children under six are free. Programs are also available at the gate at a price of $2.
For fans who are unable to attend Saturday's contest, the game will be aired live on ESPN 1360 WHBG in the Shenandoah Valley starting with the pre-game show at 12:25 p.m. The game will also be video streamed via Bridgewater's partnership with NMTVNetworks.