BUENA VISTA, Va. Under the direction of second-year head coach DeLane Fitzgerald, the Southern Virginia Football team will open the 2010 season on the road at Concord University. SVU will be looking to get a win in its opening game for the first time since the 2007 season.
"We're breaking at the seams to start the season," Fitzgerald said. "We have a great group of returning players that provide great leadership. They want this program to succeed and have worked hard in the offseason and in camp."
SVU will be looking for an improved performance after las year's run-in with the Mountain Lions. The Knights will be led by standout players on both sides of the ball including NAIA All-Independent Pre- Season Team members Thomas Canday, Tommy Davidson, and Matt Mellor. Coaches are looking for a big year from Ryan McGinn, and Fitzgerald feels that the incoming freshman are the best the program has had in the history of the program.
A LOOK AT CONCORD
Concord (6-5) made a remarkable turnaround in 2009 after going winless in 2008. Head coach Mike Kellar cemented his reputation as one of the offensive elite as Concord registered 33.2 points per game last season. Under his tutelage, Concord posted startling gains from '08 to '09 in several offensive categories. The Concord rushing attack went from 79.8 yards per game to 227. The passing game went from 106.1 yards per game to 234. In total offense, Concord's 461 yards per game in 2009 was 250% better than the 185.9 average the season before.
Concord averaged 33.2 points per game in 2009, nearly triple the 11.2 posted the prior year.
WR Thomas Mayo led Division II in receiving yards per game with 124.4 yards each outing. RB Brian Kennedy topped the WVIAC with 136.8 rush yards per game and added 17 touchdowns on the ground. Concord hopes to have quarterback Zack Grossi around for a full campaign. The Florida native racked up nine touchdown passes and 784 pass yards in just over two games of action before suffering a season-ending knee injury in a victory over West Virginia Wesleyan. Concord returns nine starters on offense and defense.
The SVU Football game versus Concord will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 102.3 FM The Ticket, with webcasting available at http://www.theticket102.com/. The webcasting begins 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
CONCORD'S LAST OUTING
The Concord football team ran into a West Liberty State squad that carried a copious amount of motivation into their matchup in the Northern Panhandle. The Hilltoppers had already ridden their prolific offense to an outright WVIAC championship (their first since 1971) and an NCAA Division II playoff berth. But a win over Concord would most likely secure them the top seed in Super Region One, and the home-field advantage and first-round bye that comes with it.
Thus inspired, the West Liberty State out-pointed Concord 64-42 at Russek Field. The teams combined for 1192 yards in the second-highest scoring game in WVIAC history.
SVU'S LAST OUTING
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. After trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, the Southern Virginia Football team mounted a comeback to win the game 14-10 and take the Oyster Bowl over Apprentice. With the Knights trailing late in the first half, Quarterback Sam Trulock led a quick drive which culminated in a 4-yard pass to Ryan McGinn to get SVU on the board and within touching distance of the Shipbuilders. The highlight of the drive was a 41-yard pass to Travis Duffey to get the Knights in to the red zone.
"This is a fantastic feeling," said Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "With the struggles we have had this season, it was tough for our team. But, we persevered, and worked harder. A result like this is a testament of the work these guys have put in. I'm happy to get this win, and it ends the season on a good note, and gets us heading into the right direction for the off-season."
The win for the Knights is the first in the program's history over the Shipbuilders. In the beginning it looked like the hosts would notch another win over SVU, as they scored the first touchdown, and then added to the score with a field goal late in the second quarter. The first Knight scoring drive started with 1:19 on the clock, and provided the visitors with the momentum heading into the second half.
The team had several opportunities to score, and SVU coaches were fearful of a repeat performance from last week, when SVU had six trips into the red zone, and scored on only half of them. A missed field goal in the second quarter did not haunt the Knights as they returned for the second half, and scored on their second drive of the quarter. A nine play 68-yard drive culminated in six-yard Brandon Ostler rush for the winning touchdown.
The Concord game marks the first of three night games for the Knights, with later starts (after 5 p.m.) also against Radford, and Bridgewater.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Concord's starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 327 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against an SVU defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-1, 250 pounds. Defensively, the Concord's front three average 6-feet-2, 290 pounds, while the SVU offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-1, 253 pounds per man.