After opening the football season with a nonconference win over Chowan, the Cavs fell to NCAA FCS Tennessee Tech on the road.
Then came the SAC gauntlet.
A 21-14 loss to Mars Hill was followed by a 42-7 whipping at the hands of Carson-Newman last weekend.
Saturday, things do not get any easier. UVa-Wise is on the road for the second of three straight SAC road trips.
This weekend’s trip to Hickory, N.C., where the Cavs face Lenoir-Rhyne, ranked No. 8 in the latest NCAA Division II poll, is yet another huge trip for UVa-Wise (1-3, 0-2).
Lenoir-Rhyne has dominated the SAC for the past two seasons under the direction of coach Drew Cronic.
After finishing 12-2 last season with a perfect 7-0 SAC record, the Bears are off to a 4-0 overall and 2-0 SAC mark this year, including a 56-28 win over Mars Hill last weekend.
PILING UP POINTS
Lenoir-Rhyne wins this season have come at the hands of an explosive offense and stingy defense. Playing with an offensive line that is one of only two NCAA DII teams that have not allowed a sack all season, the Bears rank fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game with an average of 293.5. Lenoir-Rhyne is seventh nationally in scoring, averaging 46.5 points per game.
Against Mars Hill last weekend, Jace Jordan earned SAC offensive player of the week honors. He rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for the Bears.
The Lenoir-Rhyne defense is also one of the tops in the nation.
The Bears rank 22nd in the country in points allowed, holding opponents to 15.8 points per game.
Defensive back Eric Jackson picked off three passes last week for the Bears, which led him to being named the conference’s defensive player of the week.
The defense is also anchored by linebacker Sherrod Williams — who has racked up over 250 tackles, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and six fumble recoveries in his career — and lineman Jaquan Artis — who has 20 sacks in his career, including 5.5 so far this year.
UVa-Wise continues to deal with big question marks heading into the weekend, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
The Cavaliers were held to 195 total yards last weekend by Carson-Newman and used three quarterbacks in the process.
Garrett Cropp started the game, while Tanner Bernard and freshman and Dobyns-Bennett graduate Lendon Redwine each saw action in the contest.
The Cavs’ defense also struggled in the game, giving up 557 yards to Carson-Newman, including 446 rushing yards — the most allowed by a UVa-Wise team since 2013.
Kickoff for the contest is set for 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on WLSD FM 92.5 radio and www.wlsdradio.com as well as a video feed on uvawisecavs.com.
WASPS HOF DAY
Coming off its first win of the season, Emory & Henry is at home to entertain Hampden-Sydney (1-3, 0-2) in a 1 p.m. Old Dominion Athletic Conference contest.
The Wasps (1-2, 0-1) defeated Bluefield 49-21 last weekend behind the solid performance of senior defensive lineman Da’von Keith.
Keith was named to the D3football.com team of the week and was named as the ODAC defensive player of the week.
Quarterback Hunter Taylor led the Wasps in both passing and rushing in the game after completing 18 of 33 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown.
E&H’s athletic hall of fame will recognize five new members on Saturday.
The 2019 HOF class includes Aaron Fuller, football; Jackie Greene-Dalton, women’s basketball; Casey Burcham, baseball; Tracy Ross, women’s tennis; and Gary Haga, a Sullivan Central graduate who excelled in track and field and cross country at E&H.