Shorter (3-2, 1-1 Mid-South) is looking to bounce back from a 21-17 loss to then No. 25-ranked Cumberland (Tenn.) last Saturday. The Hawks now find themselves in a must-win situation if they hope to stay in the hunt for a second West Division championship.
Belhaven (3-3, 1-1) rides into Rome on the heels of a 45-27 victory over Faulkner University in Jackson, Miss., a game in which the Blazers set a school record with 323 rushing yards and rallied from a 27-24 fourth quarter deficit.
Belhaven junior tailback Justin Gaines, who ranks second in the Mid-South in rushing and leads the nation in scoring with 12 total touchdowns, carved up the Eagles for 250 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Gaines averages 105 yards rushing per game and now squares off against a stout Shorter run defense which ranks No. 1 in the Mid-South.
The Hawks are yielding just 102 yards a game to opponents and have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season.
Shorter and Belhaven are meeting for the seventh time with the all-time series deadlocked at 3-3. The Hawks have won the last three meetings, however, including a thrilling 25-24 victory in Mississippi last season when the Blazers misfired on a potential game winning field goal as time expired. Shorter rallied from a 24-13 fourth quarter deficit that day with the help of two long touchdown runs and a strong performance from its defense, which surrendered just three second half points.
The Hawks and Blazers have been involved in several memorable contests over the years, including the first overtime game in Shorter history — a 45-38 Belhaven win back in 2005 — and a game that produced 97 points and 953 yards of offense — Shorter’s 55-42 victory at Belhaven in 2009. Shorter shut out Belhaven 35-0 in the Blazers’ last trip to Barron Stadium in 2008 and the Hawks went on to win their first Mid-South West Division title that season.
As always, fans who cannot make it out to Barron Stadium on Saturday can listen to all the action by tuning into 95.7 WATG-FM The Ridge or by accessing the live webcast link available on the Shorter Athletics homepage. Coverage begins at 2 pm with “Hawk Talk” and continues with “The Phil Jones Show” at 2:30 pm. The pregame show from Barron Stadium with Jim Bojo and Randy Bowen begins at 3 pm.
Fans can also choose to watch the game live with audio provided by 95.7 The Ridge by logging onto SUTV at http://www.shorter.edu/sutv/. The game will be available on demand at http://www.screamingstreamingsports.com/.