Football Travels to Randolph-Macon for Elimination Game
BRIDGEWATER, Va. – On Saturday afternoon at the freshly renovated Day Field on the Randolph-Macon campus, one team's Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football championship hopes will disappear while one team will be left clinging to a glimmer of hope when the Bridgewater Eagles meet the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets on the gridiron.
Bridgewater and Randolph-Macon won in different ways last week as the Eagles held off a late Emory & Henry push to score a 27-21 victory, while the Yellow Jackets tallied 17 points in the final eight minutes of the game to upend Shenandoah in Winchester, Va. by a 27-24 tally.
The Bridgewater defense will again switch gears this weekend from a pass-heavy Emory & Henry attack to a run-oriented Yellow Jackets offense.
Randolph-Macon enters the contest with the second-best rushing attack in the league and is led on the ground by the efforts of junior Will McGhee. McGhee entered the season as a cornerback, but averages 113 yards per game and is approaching the 1,000-yard mark. The junior has bolted into the end zone three times and is accented in the backfield by Drake Sanders.
Sophomore Zac Naccarato has continued to develop into one of the ODAC's top quarterbacks during his second season in head coach Pedro Arruza's system. Naccarato has been solid through the air, averaging 188 yards per game. The sophomore has also been careful with the football, owning a 13-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Senior Luke Sellers remains the top statistical threat on the receiving end with 31 catches for 502 yards. Sellers adds a team-high four touchdown receptions and has hauled in a quarter of Naccarato's passes on the year.
Defensively, the Eagles will go against the reigning ODAC Defensive Player of the Week for the third straight Saturday. Linebacker Tom Solak is one of the leaders of the Randolph-Macon defense with 29 total tackles, including 5.5 for a loss. Ian Candelaria and David Fetter pace the Yellow Jackets defensive unit with 44 tackles each.
Bridgewater's offensive remains under the control of junior quarterback Willie Logan. After a pair of less-than-stellar outings, Logan has been exceptional over the last two weeks. The junior has thrown for 525 yards and five touchdowns over the last two weeks, while only tossing one interception. Logan has also only been sacked once over the last eight quarters.
Sophomore Jacob Wright continues to lead the Bridgewater rushing attack with 620 yards on the year. Wright has been quiet over the past two weeks and hasn't been to the end zone since Bridgewater's 44-14 triumph over Apprentice.
On the receiving end, Logan continues to utilize a number of different receivers on a week-to-week basis. A week ago, Logan hooked up with 10 different receivers with the tight ends continuing to lead the way. Tight end Michael Colee and junior wide receiver Shawn Lee pace the offense with 23 and 22 catches, respectively.
Bridgewater's defensive unit continues to shine and leads the league in nearly every defensive category. Junior linebacker Andrew Palmer and senior linebacker Salem Nganga lead the way for the Eagles with 63 and 60 tackles each. The Eagles are the league leaders in points allowed per game (15.5), and total offense allowed (304.6).
Randolph-Macon and Bridgewater will be meeting for the 73rd time on Saturday afternoon in Ashland. R-MC holds a 54-15-3 overall lead in a series that dates back to 1926.
After dropping eight consecutive games to the Eagles from 1999-2006, R-MC has won four of the last five meetings between the two programs. Last season, Thaddeus Scruggs ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns to lead Randolph-Macon to a 51-36 ODAC road victory over Bridgewater.
Then junior Carlos Gonzalez's 406-yard effort was the most for a Bridgewater quarterback in school history, surpassing Brandon Wakefield's 378-yard performance against Emory & Henry in 2004.
For fans who are unable to attend Saturday's contest, the game will be aired live on ESPN 1360 in the Shenandoah Valley starting with the pre-game show at 12:30 p.m.