BUENA VISTA, Va. An overwhelming offense and a stifling defense led the Southern Virginia Football team to its first victory, as the team triumphed over George Mason 51-12. The 2009 Homecoming Game for SVU was played in front of alumni, students, faculty, staff and members of the SVU Board of Trustees. The Knights amassed an emphatic 527 yards of total offense, and had their way with the Patriots on the ground and through the air. On the defensive side, SVU was dominant as they allowed only 249-yards of total offense for the visitors, and only were scored on in the fourth quarter when there was no doubt as to who the victors would be. SVU now stands at 1-6 on the season.
"I feel fantastic right now," said Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "This has been a long two months. We have struggled, and played hard, and haven't had anything to show for it. I'm proud of these guys. They have hung tough, and we got the win because of their perseverance."
Along with the first win of the season, it was also Fitzgerald's first career victory as a head coach. SVU went up early on the Patriots, as the visitors muffed a punt and kicked it out of their end zone. The punter had made the punt outside of the end zone, so instead of a safety the Knights received the ball on the 3-yard line. A handoff to Quinton Garrus, and the Knights took the lead, and Garrus had his first touchdown of the season.
The Knight defense was stifling in the first half, and the Patriots had several drives of no yardage, and a number of 3-and-outs which put them farther behind as the hosts notched up the offensive intensity.
SVU was the beneficiary of another poor punt, and started at the GMU 45. A quick drive of 45-yards culminated in a Josh Barrett to Daniel Bokinsky pass for a touchdown from 10-yards out. The first quarter ended with the first Knight double-digit lead of the season. The second quarter started in the same manner as the Knights kept marching toward more points. A drive in progress was sustained as Quarterback Sam Trulock hit Bokinsky on a critical fourth down play. Garruss finished the drive later on as he ran the ball in from 19-yards. David Haws' streak of consecutive PAT's was ended as he missed the kick following the Garruss run.
"We knew they (GMU) have had a tough season," said Fitzgerald. "We told the team to play with a ton of intensity, and we could get points quickly, and hopefully grab control of the game. I think we executed tremendously well today. It was fun to watch from the sideline."
SVU fans were treated to an historical moment, as Trulock hit Travis Duffy for a 95-yard touchdown pass. The score was the longest for the season, and the longest pass play in the history of the program. The pass play was the last scoring for the half, and the knights went to the locker room with a 27-0 lead. The third quarter was more of the same, as Trulock led the Knights on a quick 2 play drive and finished off with a 1-yard pass to Bronson Molen for the score. Thomas Canady scored his first touchdown of the season as he powered home a 1-yard run later in the third.
A Haws field goal set up the fourth quarter, and left little doubt as to who would win the competition. A Zach Garner to Dawson Bowcut fourth quarter score, for 43-yards, was the last scoring the Knights would do for the day. George Mason put together two strong drives in the dying minutes of the game to avoid the shutout, but the winner of the competition had already been decided.
The Knight offense had a strong performance, but the defense also came to play as they recorded six interceptions on the day. SVU also demolished the GMU running game allowing only 19 yards of total rushing for the day. Matt Mellor, Chad John and Dakoda Winsor led the Knight defense with six tackles each. Brandon Seeberger chipped in with two interceptions.
"I'm very happy with the performance today," said Fitzgerald. "It is a fantastic feeling to win, but I'm also encouraged because we played very well in earning the win. This is good momentum for us, especially with the rest of the games we'll have this year. If we use it the right way, this won't be our last win of the season."
The Knights will need every last bit of momentum from today as they travel to play NCAA Division I Gardner Webb Oct. 24. Game time is scheduled for 4:00.