BUENA VISTA, Va. The Southern Virginia Football team had its best offensive and defensive outputs of the season, but could not contain Ferrum College's running game, losing 28-21. The Knights had tied the game at 21 at 5:01 of the third quarter when Quarterback Sam Trulock snuck the ball in from the Ferrum 1-yard line. SVU had several more opportunities in the game to take the lead and win its first game of the season, but they could not stop the Panther's from running to a fourth quarter touchdown and the win.
The game was played in very wet conditions as a fall storm dumped rain on the competitors and turned the home field into a quagmire. The conditions were hoped for by Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald.
"With the field slow and muddy, and slippery and wet, I was hoping that they (Ferrum) would be less effective in their running game," said Fitzgerald. "I think we had great chances to stop their running attack. The downside to the weather was that it hurt our passing game a bit."
The weather did not stop the Knights from recording the first score of the game as Trulock found Ryan McGinn for a 9-yard pass at 9:26 of the first quarter. The touchdown was the finishing touch on a 7-play 58-yard drive. The Panthers responded quickly as Mike Vann ran to the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown on the first play of the proceeding drive. The tie score would be the first time in the day that the teams would be deadlocked, but it would not be the last.
McGinn was the beneficiary again of another Trulock pass, as he pulled in a 29-yard pitch from the quarterback to put the Knights back in the lead. The score came at the 12:04 mark of the second quarter. The Knight defense had put in a strong performance to keep the Panther run attack in check and force a punt which McGinn returned to the Ferrum 29. The 1-play drive put the Knights back on top, but it would be the last time in the game SVU would have the lead.
Ferrum responded immediately with Quarterback Matt Dobson throwing for a 44-yard strike to Vann for the tie. Both teams had possessions before the half ended, and it looked like the Knights would be able to keep the game knotted up at 14, but the Panthers had one last strike to the end zone with 39 seconds left in the half for the lead. Dobson hooked up with Makya Jackson for a 54-yard touchdown pass.
"That was a tough one for us," said Fitzgerald. "I felt we were doing a good job in stopping the run, but they can do a good job of play-action and getting big gains. We got stung by that, and it hurt us a lot."
The Knights came out in the second half ad were able to keep the Panthers off the board for the majority of the half. The defense led by Matt Mellor and Cory John, who each recorded nine total tackles, was playing an inspired game, and had multiple stops during the half to give the SVU offense a chance to tie the game.
Trulock and company came through in the third quarter as the quarterback keeper finished off the 16-play 59-yard drive.
"That was exactly what we wanted," said Fitzgerald. "That drive, was what we have been trying to accomplish all year. It had everything we have tried to do. Great running, great passing and almost perfect execution. We earned that score, and I thought we had that momentum going for us."
Unfortunately, the momentum slipped away in the mud as both teams could not put together scoring drives until Ferrum marched 96-yards to get the winning touchdown. A nearly seven minute drive ended with Dobson keeping the ball for the score.
SVU had two opportunities at the end to get the score, but pass plays were broken up on two different drives inside the last two minutes, by the Panther defense.
Trulock finished the game 11-27 with two touchdowns. McGinn had 3 receptions for 49 yards, including the two touchdown receptions. Quinton Garrus ran 13 times for 88-yards. David Haws continued his perfect season as he made all three PATs.
"This was a tough loss," said Fitzgerald. "We were so close this afternoon, and I know the guys gave everything they had to get the win. The weather neutralized both teams, but we just couldn't get over the hump. I'm very proud of how we performed. We never quit, and that attitude and performance will be rewarded this year."
The Knights fall to 0-5 on the season. They return to action Oct. 2 when they travel to play at Guilford. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm.