BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Following the team's first loss of the season, the Bridgewater Eagles football team is preparing to head across the border to Greensboro, N.C. on Saturday for an Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) showdown with the Guilford Quakers.
Dating back to the 2008 season, Bridgewater is a perfect 6-for-6 in the week following a loss.
Bridgewater enters the game on the heels of a hard-fought 24-17 loss at the hands of Hampden-Sydney. The Eagles led for the fifth straight week as the teams headed to the locker room, but a 14 point third quarter barrage from the Tigers and a number of costly mistakes proved to be too much for Bridgewater to overcome.
Guilford comes in to Saturday's contest on a six-game skid, dating back to the 2009 season finale against Emory & Henry. The Quakers fell last week on the road in Buena Vista to the Southern Virginia Knights by a 36-21 score.
Entering the game, Bridgewater is led through the air by senior quarterback Hagan Driskell (Ruther Glen, Va./Caroline).
Driskell continues to show major improvements during his senior season. Through five games, Driskell has improved upon his numbers through five games in 2009 in every passing category. His 154.4 passer rating is the second-highest single season efficiency rating in Bridgewater history, behind the 2001 rating of all-time leading passer Jason Lutz.
On the ground, Bridgewater has turned to a running back by committee formula, with senior Darrin McKenzie (Rustburg, Va./Brookville) taking the bulk of the carries.
McKenzie takes over for senior running back Thomas Tate (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee), who left the game against Hampden-Sydney after just two carries. The Rustburg, Va. native turned in a standout performance against the Tigers, rushing for a game-high 126 yards.
On the receiving end, senior Tyler Beiler (Ronks, Pa./Conestoga Valley) continues to make his mark on the annals of Bridgewater College and on Division III football. Coming into Saturday's game, Beiler leads the nation in all-purpose yardage and is second in the NCAA in all-purpose yards per game behind Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State's Henry Harris.
Defensively, the Eagles have shown dramatic improvement from a season ago and ranks 20th in Division III in total defense.
In the first five games, Bridgewater has yet to allow an opponent to rush for 100 yards in a game and has held four opponents to a quarter with negative yardage on the ground. The Eagles rushing defense ranks eighth in Division III.
Junior Dominic Jeter (Yorktown, Va./Tabb) is putting up All-American numbers from his defensive end position. Jeter has already matched the sacks total of 2003 All-American Gary Nelson and has his eyes set on the single season Bridgewater record of 11.5, set by All-American Ryan Bailey. Jeter leads the ODAC in sacks with seven, and ranks fifth in Division III in total sacks.
As a team, the Eagles' 10 tackles for a loss per game ranks third in Division III and is tied for the fifth-best tally in the NCAA.
Guilford comes in to Saturday's game looking for answers, following a 0-5 start to the season.
Behind center, the Quakers have had a quarterback by committee with Luke Vandall leading the way. Vandall leads the Quakers in every passing category and has started four of the five games for Guilford. Billy Watkins, the 2009 starter, has seen action in every game and is close behind Vandall, statistically.
On the ground, leading rusher Mike Williams has yet to receive an official start. Williams is averaging 27 yards per game for the Quakers rushing attack.
Last week against Southern Virginia, Guilford was held to just 31 yards on the ground.
Wide receiver Ben King has been one of the lone bright spots thus far for Guilford. King has hauled 41 passes for 553 yards on the season, averaging 110 yards per game which ranks fourth in the ODAC.
Defensively, Chris Jessup leads the way with 45 tackles on the year and a team-high five sacks.
Guilford and Bridgewater both enter the game with the third quarter blues. Bridgewater has been shut out in the third quarter for the last three games, while Guilford has been outscored by a 56-8 tally this season following the halftime intermission.
Last season at Jopson Field, Bridgewater jumped out to a 33-9 halftime lead, before cruising to a 40-9 victory over the Quakers due in great part to a 157-yard afternoon on the ground from the legs of Tate.
Action from Guilford's Armfield Athletic Center kicks off on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. For fans unable to attend, the game will be streamed live online with live audio and video. For Bridgewater fans in the Shenandoah Valley, the game will be broadcast live on ESPN 1360 WHBG starting at 12:30 p.m. with Bill Phipps and the Pregame Show brought to you by Second West.