BRIDGEWATER, Va. – After a tough 28-14 loss at Hampden-Sydney in the conference opener, the Bridgewater Eagles football team will look to rebound at Jopson Field against a struggling Guilford squad. Saturday's game will also mark Homecoming for the Eagles.
Guilford also came up on the losing end a week ago in a non-conference affair. The Quakers dropped a 55-24 contest to NAIA Southern Virginia in their final non-conference game of the season.
Last week at Hampden-Sydney, the Bridgewater offense found its rhythm but two costly turnovers proved to be too much to overcome as the Eagles dropped the conference opener.
Bridgewater never led against the Tigers, but a Julius Delbridge reception on an inside shovel pass gave the Eagles hope in the early part of the second half, before a Darrin McKenzie touchdown run kept Bridgewater in the game late.
On the day, the Eagles outgained Hampden-Sydney offensively by a 415-to-383 tally, including an outstanding effort on the ground. Bridgewater rushed for 203 yards on the afternoon and controlled the clock, but couldn't get over the hump against the Tigers to get back in the wins column.
Defensively, the Eagles did all they could to keep Hampden-Sydney in check, holding the Tigers to their lowest offensive output all season.
On the other side of the coin, a struggling Guilford team has lost four games in a row, and has allowed opponents to average 59 points per game the last two weeks.
Two weeks ago, the Quakers were on the receiving end of a 63-0 shutout loss against Washington and Lee. The Generals piled up 410 yards on the ground on the afternoon.
Last week, Guilford committed seven turnovers, including five interceptions, in falling to Southern Virginia. GC led 10-7 after 15 minutes of play thanks to a six-yard touchdown pass from Steven Gregory to B.J. McKeever and a 31-yard field goal by Owen Bridges, but three straight scores by the Knights put SVU ahead, 23-10, early in third quarter.
Gregory connected with Brandon Thompson on a 37-yard scoring strike to pull the Quakers to within six at 23-17 with 8:58 on the clock in third quarter. SVU responded with 32 unanswered points (five touchdowns, two missed PAT's and a failed two-point try) to open up a 55-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. GC's Aaron McNeeley capped the game's scoring with a one-yard touchdown run that put the finishing touches on a six play 76-yard drive.
Lawrence Blake led Guilford's offense with eight catches for 108 yards. Defensively, Robert Smith collected a career and game-high 13 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss and a sack. Chris Jessup had 12 tackles and half a sack. Hunter English and Brad Gayhardt each made nine stops, with English also recording his first interception.
Offensively, the Quakers are led by Zach Halbert's 221 yards per game through the air. Halbert has tossed four touchdown passes against six interceptions on the season and is completing 55% of his pass attempts.
Blake and returning ODAC Rookie of the Year Ben King are each averaging over 85 yards per game, respectively, on the receiving end, giving the Quakers a dual-threat on the edges.
Guilford leads the all-time series against the Eagles with a 21-16 record. Bridgewater brings a four-game winning streak against the Quakers into the weekend and has won 11 of the last 12 games in series history. Guilford's last win over Bridgewater came in 2006 when the Quakers effectively ended Bridgewater's five-year reign atop the ODAC.
Head coach Michael Clark looks to win game number 114 of his career on Saturday and owns a 12-4 record against Guilford.
Saturday's game also marks the celebration of the 1960's and Bridgewater's 1968 team which was the first team in school history to have a winning season.
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Jopson Field. If you are unable to make it to Saturday's game, the game will be aired live on ESPN 1360 WHBG starting at 12:25 p.m. with the pregame show brought to you by Hal Duff and the folks at Second West. Saturday's game will also be live streamed through the BridgewaterEagles.com website and New Media Television Sports.