BRIDGEWATER, Va. – The Bridgewater Eagles football team will look to get back in the wins column on Saturday when it travels to Emory & Henry for the final road contest of the 2013 season.
Bridgewater will also be looking to avoid the program's longest losing streak in 15 years when action kicks up from Fred Selfe Stadium on the Emory & Henry campus, but the Eagles will have to slow down a potent Emory & Henry attack and get back to non-conference form on the offensive side of the coin.
Last season at Jopson Field, then-junior quarterback Willie Logan threw for 245 yards and two scores, while the Bridgewater special teams unit blocked a field goal and a punt as the Bridgewater Eagles football team held off a late rally from the visiting Wasps of Emory & Henry to claim a 27-21 victory on Senior Day at Jopson Field. Ryan Green-Ellis added a game-high 64 yards on 18 carries as Bridgewater rushed for 171 yards on the afternoon.
Emory & Henry and Bridgewater enter Saturday's contest in similar situations, as the two teams have lost a combined seven of their last eight contests.
Last week, Emory & Henry snapped a three-game skid with a close 17-15 victory over Catholic. The Cardinals drove downfield and scored late but couldn't convert the two-point conversion attempt as the Wasps escaped with a two-point victory.
Emory & Henry is led offensively by the play of senior quarterback Kyle Boden. Boden ranks second in the league in passing yards per game with 276.2 and has also thrown 13 touchdown passes which ranks third in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). The senior also boasts a league-best 72% completion percentage and has been limited to just three interceptions which is the second-lowest tally in the ODAC.
Aside from Boden's aerial attack, the Wasps are fairly limited as they are rushing for a league-worst 127.9 yards per game. Joe Vaughn leads the Emory & Henry ground game with 465 yards on 103 carries. Jonathan Turpin is the go-to guy in goal-line situations as Turpin has rushed for six scores on just 13 carries.
Josh Smith leads the Wasps receivers with 50 catches for 500 yards and three scores while Lucas Kirby adds a team-high five touchdown receptions to a potent air attack for the Wasps.
Defensively, linebacker Paul Forney leads the way with a team-high 59 tackles including 5.5 tackles for a loss. Forney's 59 tackles rank fourth in the ODAC. The junior also owns a team-high two interceptions on the year.
Overall, Emory & Henry boasts the league's most opportunistic defense with a conference-leading 17 turnovers forced. The Wasps have posted 10 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries on the year. Despite their turnover acumen, the Wasps are allowing opponents to gain nearly 400 yards per game, including a league-worst 230.9 yards per game on the ground.
Bridgewater's offensive attack has been grounded in recent weeks as the Eagles are averaging less than 14 points per game during their four-game skid. Logan has struggled in recent weeks, throwing seven interceptions in the last four weeks, including a career-high four picks in last week's loss at Washington and Lee.
On the ground, Jacob Wright leads the way with 544 yards and six touchdowns, while Logan adds another 326 yards and a team-high seven rushing touchdowns to the mix.
Three Bridgewater players have 20-or-more receptions on the year, led by Cassidy Burns' 27 catches for 423 yards and three scores which all are team highs.
Defensively, the Eagles are led by the play of linebacker Andrew Palmer. Palmer leads the ODAC with 68 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss. Bridgewater's defense was turnover-happy at the beginning of the year, forcing nine turnovers and scoring three times in Bridgewater's 3-0 start. Since conference play has opened, the Eagles have forced just four turnovers.
The Wasps lead the all-time series against Bridgewater with a 27-11-1 record in a series that dates back to 1927. Emory & Henry took the first game in series history by an 83-0 score, the most lopsided loss in program history for the Eagles. The series was permanently renewed with the start of the ODAC in 1976 and the Wasps won the first four games of the series from 1976-79 until Bridgewater won by a 15-14 score en route to the league title in 1980.
Following a tie in 1981, Emory & Henry rattled off 19 straight wins from 1982-2000. The Eagles took over the series with five straight victories from 2001-05. The Eagles enter Saturday's contest on a four-game winning streak against the Wasps, after last season' s 27-21 victory at Jopson Field. Bridgewater jumped out to a 14-0 lead against the Wasps last season and blocked a field goal and a punt before holding off a late Emory & Henry rally in a six-point win.
Kick off on Saturday afternoon is set for 1 p.m. at Emory & Henry's Fred Selfe Stadium. For fans that are unable to attend, the game will be aired live on 95.5 WBOP FM in the Shenandoah Valley with the pregame show starting at 12:30 p.m.