Guilford Ready For Thursday Night Football
Guilford (2-3, 1-1 ODAC) vs. Bridgewater (4-1, 1-1 ODAC)
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012
Appenzeller Field at Armfield Athletic Center
Guilford vs. Bridgewater Series
Guilford owns a 21-17 lead in the series with Bridgewater, which dates to 1936. Guilford's 21 wins over the Eagles are the third-highest total in school history. The Quakers won 15 of the first 17 meetings, including 12 straight from 1956-1985. Bridgewater has won 12 of the last 13 games between the two schools. Since Guilford joined the ODAC in 1991, the Eagles hold a 15-6 series advantage. Guilford last defeated Bridgewater in 2006.
Bridgewater's Anthony Carter ran for 131 yards and a score in last year's 59-13 win over Guilford. The Eagles' defense allowed just 130 offensive yards, forced four turnovers and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Bridgewater scored 28 points off the miscues, all in the first half, which opened a 35-13 halftime lead.
Guilford's Josh Williams had a game-high 18 carries for 48 rushing yards. Satiir Stevenson and C.J. Green paced the Quakers' defense with nine tackles apiece, both game highs.
Last Time Out
Matt Pawlowski (puh-LAHH-skee) threw two touchdowns to Trey Billian in Guilford's 20-7 ODAC win at Shenandoah last Saturday. Tyler Hunt added two field goals as the Quakers won the first football game between the two schools.
Guilford's defense limited the Hornets to 206 total offensive yards and registered an interception and a season-high six sacks. The Hornets made three trips inside Guilford's 20-yard line in the first half, but the Quakers held a 10-0 halftime lead.
Hunt's second field goal, a 33-yarder, boosted the Quakers' edge to 13-0 midway through the third period. He became the first Quakers' kicker with two field goals in a game since 2009.
Pawlowski connected with Billian on a 79-yard fourth-quarter scoring play. It was the Quakers' longest completion since 1992. Hunt's point after opened a 20-0 Guilford lead with 11:32 remaining.
Pawlowski completed 15-of-28 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Billian's two catches were both touchdowns and totaled a game-high 92 yards. Adam Smith grabbed four passes and Mike Williams led Guilford's ground gainers with 59 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Defensively, Robert Smith shared game-high honors with 13 tackles, his sixth straight game with 10 or more stops. Reggie Bullard made eight tackles, including two sacks. Tyler Eller also had two sacks among his five tackles.
Scouting the Quakers
Guilford did not get off to the start it wanted in the first two weeks of the season, but bounced back in week three at Averett. After a bye week, the Quakers were reasonably healthy and looking forward to a clean state as they opened ODAC play versus Washington and Lee. However, the Generals' experienced option attack proved too much for Guilford. The Quakers rebounded last week with a solid 20-7 road win over Shenandoah, their first league victory of the year.
For a team comprised largely of first- and second-year college students, the Quakers have had a number of good moments this season. The rookie tandem of quarterback Matt Pawlowski and converted signal-caller Adam Smith has been a productive combination. Sophomore linebacker Robert Smith has been all over the field for Guilford and leads the ODAC with nearly 13 tackles per game.
Mistakes at critical junctures have plagued the team. Guilford averages over 10 penalties and 98 penalty yards per game. The Quakers have also turned the ball over eight times, effectively negating the defense's eight takeaways. Dropped passes and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown also contributed to Guilford's three setbacks this season.
Despite the mistakes, second-year head coach Chris Rusiewicz and his staff are upbeat and believe Guilford's future is bright. Rusiewicz knew he would field another young team in 2012. While only a few true freshmen dotted the opening-day starting lineup, most of the other starters were either sophomores or juniors in their first or second season with the team. The Quakers' reserves are largely comprised of newcomers, so when the injury bug hits, the team gets even younger. Tonight's depth chart lists 10 probable starters in their first college football campaign.
As mentioned earlier, some of the younger players have stepped in and performed fairly well. Pawlowski has shown poise while passing for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in his first five college games. He won the starting job in preseason camp by beating out five others for the job, including fellow freshman Adam Smith and junior transfer Chance Green. The speedy Smith found his way onto the field as a slot receiver and made 13 grabs for 134 yards and a score Sept. 15 versus Methodist. Green, a 6-6 transfer from Catawba College, has been featured at tight end and halfback.
Robert Smith picked up right where he left off after a Second Team All-ODAC campaign in 2011. Nicknamed 'Rampage', he leads league's tacklers and had a 19-tackle, two-sack performance against Methodist. His 19 stops were the most by a Quakers' defender since 1999.
Smith's play has helped Guilford's pass defense pace the ODAC with an average of 148.0 passing yards allowed per game. He also has one of the Quakers' league-best six interceptions this season.
Guilford's special teams have been hot and cold. Rookie Tyler Hunt's first college field goal, a 35-yarder, broke a 35-35, fourth-quarter tie at Averett. He booted two field goals in Guilford's road win over Shenandoah, the most by a Quakers' kicker since 2009, and ranks fourth among ODAC punting leaders with a 37.7-yard average.
A blocked punt against Methodist cost the Quakers a touchdown and a missed field goal and point-after attempt versus Greensboro hurt as well. The return game has been solid with freshman JerMario Gooch averaging 22.5 yards per kickoff return and junior transfer Nick Mearite ranked 38th among national punt return leaders (10.7 yards per return).
The injury bug feasted on the Quakers earlier this year with many starters missing games during the season's first month. The recent bye week certainly restored some team members' health, but Guilford will still be missing key contributors today. Junior defensive lineman Kyle Ennis, a team captain, is scheduled to miss his second straight game a shoulder injury. Rookie Zack Parris, who has started in Guilford's secondary, will also miss tonight's contest.
Junior defensive back Alex Smith, a team captain, should play tonight after a three-game absence due to a fractured hand bone suffered versus Methodist.
Out for the Bridgewater game: junior defensive lineman Kyle Ennis (shoulder), freshman defensive lineman T.J. Frost (ankle), freshman defensive back Taylor Knox (knee), freshman defensive back Zack Parris (ankle), junior defensive lineman Jordan Sutton (ankle), junior receiver Kevin Tiller (hand).
Out for the season: freshman running back Jakob Sayer, senior defensive lineman Branson O'Hara, freshman offensive lineman Noel Helms, freshman receiver Hayden Read and freshman defensive lineman Marcus Hicks.
Thursday Night Lights
So why are the Quakers hosting the first Thursday night game in school history? Credit Bridgewater head coach Mike Clark with giving Guilford boss Chris Rusiewicz the idea.
Historically the Eagles visit to Guilford coincides with the Quakers' fall break and attendance is typically lean. Clark suggested a Thursday night game to drum up greater interest in the contest, something that happened when his former employer, Virginia Tech, mixed a midweek game into the schedule. While both teams have a short week of preparation, the Thursday tilt gives Guilford some extra time off during fall break and enables the Eagles to make the trip in a single day, as opposed to their usual overnight stay.
Guilford last played on a Thursday Nov. 24, 1966, when the Quakers knocked off Appalachian, 16-13, on a Thanksgiving Day game in Greensboro. Guilford has never played an ODAC game on a Thursday, although the Quakers and Lynchburg College played three times on a Thursday when the Hornets fielded a team.
The Quakers' all-time record on Thursday games is 11-18-2.
Smith Wins Weekly Honor
Guilford's Robert Smith picked up the ODAC's Defensive Player of the Week Award for his play in Guilford's win at Shenandoah Oct. 6. The sophomore linebacker made a game-high 13 tackles (4 solo), including two behind the line of scrimmage. He is the Quakers' first defensive recipient of the league's weekly honor this season.
Smith leads the ODAC with 12.8 tackles and 2.2 tackles for loss per game. Both averages stand 10th among this week's NCAA Division III leaders. He has made 10 or more stops in each of his past six contests, dating to last season. Nicknamed 'Rampage,' Smith brought down a career- and game-high 19 ballcarriers versus Methodist Sept. 8, the most tackles by a Quaker since 1999.
Steady Under Center
Guilford rookie quarterback Matt Pawlowski has drawn early praise for his poise and steadiness in his first year. The ODAC's Offensive Player of the Week for the week for games of Sept. 14-15, he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the Quakers' win at Averett.
Pawlowski, a product of nearby Northwest Guilford High School, stands fourth among ODAC total offense (230.4 ypg.) and passing average (213.0) leaders. His nine touchdowns stand third in the league.
Too Good For the Sidelines
When Matt Pawlowski beat out five other signal-callers for the starting quarterback's job, the Quakers' coaching staff knew some of those he beat could help the team elsewhere. Freshman Adam Smith and junior Chance Green have proved it with solid performances at receiver and halfback, respectively.
Smith is the Quakers' leading pass catcher through four games with 30 receptions for 310 yards. He ranks third in the ODAC with 6.0 catches per game, a figure that ranks 63rd nationally. Smith, who has taken direct snaps in Guilford's 'Wildcat' formation, has caught two touchdowns this year.
In his first Guilford season after transferring from Catawba, Green has found his way on to the field at the Quakers' halfback spot. A big target at 6-6, he made three of his four receptions this season against Methodist Sept. 8.
Mearite Ranked Nationally
Junior Nick Mearite, a receiver in his first Guilford season after transferring from UNC Pembroke, is ranked 38th among NCAA Division III punt return leaders with a 10.71-yard average.
Guilford's coaches have successfully recruited in the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem) and turned up many local contributors. Of the 88 students on the roster, 20 come from within a 30-mile radius of the college and 31 hail from within 60 miles of Guilford. Many of the local students are from Guilford County, including Greensboro products Matt Pawlowski, Ramces Rojas, Hunter English, all starters.
Quakers Retain Soup Bowl Cup Award
Guilford and Greensboro College compete annually in a game known as the Gate City Soup Bowl. The winner receives an actual trophy shaped like a soup bowl.
This season, the Soup Bowl Trophy returned to Greensboro College for the eighth time in the 16-game series, but Guilford held on to the Soup Bowl Cup. The cup goes to the school that raises the most items in a food drive associated with the Soup Bowl game. Guilford collected 5,249 foodstuffs this year, compared to 3,874 for Greensboro. The food benefitted the Greensboro Urban Ministry of Greensboro.
Members of the Quakers' athletics department contributed over 2,700 items, including over 1,000 from the football team.
Campbell Named Finalist for National Scholar-Athlete Prize
Freshman Tyler Campbell was one of 26 students from across the country selected as a finalist for the National Football Foundation's (NFF) 2012 National Scholar-Athlete Awards.
Campbell and the other 25 finalists were chosen from a pool of 3,300 individuals recognized by the organization's 120 local chapters. He is one of three South Region finalists nominated for academic achievement, athletic accolades and community involvement.
Campbell lettered three years under coach Joe Woodruff at Northwest Guilford High School. The reserve offensive lineman was a First Team All-Piedmont Triad 4A Conference selection and served as team captain.
Head Coach Chris Rusiewicz
Chris Rusiewicz (ruh-SEV-itch) took over as Guilford's head football coach in January 2011. He is the Quakers' 22nd head football coach in 105 recorded seasons.
In his first year, the Quakers posted a 2-8 record with using a roster largely comprised of first-year students. One of the wins came in the annual Gate City Soup Bowl contest with crosstown-rival Greensboro College. Six of Rusiewicz's charges garnered All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) recognition, including First-Team receiver Ben King '12, who also landed D3football.com All-South honors. Off the field, Guilford football team members contributed over 900 hours of volunteer service, well over Rusiewicz's initial goal of 600 hours.
Rusiewicz was associate head coach at Ursinus, a highly selective liberal arts college in Collegeville, Pa., from 2007-10. He received the 2010 American Football Coaches Association's (AFCA) Division III Assistant Coach of the Year Award. The annual prize honors coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.
Rusiewicz joined Peter Gallagher's Ursinus staff in 2001 as a secondary coach, became the Bears' defensive coordinator in 2003 and was named special teams coach in 2008. The team ranked 23rd or higher among NCAA Division III total defense leaders three times from 2007-10. Rusiewicz guided 11 Ursinus defenders or specialists to 14 First Team All-Centennial Conference honors in 10 seasons.
In addition to his coaching accomplishments, Rusiewicz made significant contributions to the greater Ursinus community. He implemented a Christmas program that raised approximately $1,500 for the benefit of three local families. In conjunction with the National Marrow Donor Program and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Rusiewicz coordinated an effort to recruit bone marrow donors. He participated in service projects with Big Brothers and Habitat for Humanity that contributed to the football team's over 600 volunteer hours in 2009-10. He also developed and implemented a series of off-field programs designed to benefit students' academic progress and leadership abilities.
After playing at Quakertown (Pa.) High School, Rusiewicz started his college career at Shippensburg (Pa.) University where he lettered as a reserve running back for the NCAA Division II Red Raiders. He graduated with a degree in sports administration from DeSales University in 2001. Rusiewicz entered the coaching ranks as founder, general manager and offensive coordinator of the semiprofessional Eastern Pennsylvania Scorpions from 1997-2004. He spent four years as the Physical Director of the Spring Valley YMCA.
A native of Perkasie, Pa., Rusiewicz and his wife, Tara, have three young children.
Quakers Picked Seventh in the ODAC
Old Dominion Athletic Conference head football coaches tabbed Guilford seventh in their annual preseason poll this year. Defending league champion Hampden-Sydney College garnered four first-place votes and 46 points to take the top spot in the eight-team poll. Randolph-Macon College ranked second with three first-place vote and 44 points. Washington and Lee University received the remaining first-place vote and placed third in the poll, followed by Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Catholic University of America, Guilford and league newcomer Shenandoah University.
Guilford last won the ODAC title in 1997 when it shared the honor with Randolph-Macon and Emory & Henry. The Quakers won their first outright conference crown in 1991, their first year of league membership.
Head coach Chris Rusiewicz points to the stability of his relatively young coaching staff as a key to Guilford's progress in his first two seasons. The Quakers return the bulk of last year's coaching staff in tact, adding former Guilford players and student assistants Treiston Burnette and David Clark '12 to the official staff along with newcomer Derek Jones.
Burnette, who played for Guilford in 2006 before finishing his college education at neighboring UNC Greensboro, coaches the linebackers this year. Clark, a two-year letter-winning lineman, served as a student assistant in his final two campaigns and directs the team's running backs this season. Jones is a relative newcomer to the profession and coaches the cornerbacks.
Coming Up Next
Guilford hits the road to where it will play three of its final four games of 2012. The Quakers visit league-rival Randolph-Macon Oct. 20 in an ODAC contest at the Yellow Jackets newly renovated Day Field.