BUENA VISTA, Va. After a program first win over Ferrum, the Southern Virginia football team will be looking to record another first with a win over Brevard. The Knights took the game away from the Panthers, as they recorded the first win against the USA South foe in program history. Led by a 70-yard Fine Itaaehau interception return for a touchdown, the Knights secured a win after weathering a tense fourth quarter, and a Panthers failed field goal with a minute-an-a-half left on the clock.
SVU now turns its attention to the NCAA D.II Tornados. This will be the second matchup between the schools, with the first coming in the 2009 season. Brevard had its way with the Knights, as the Tornados rushed for over 400-yards, and limited the Knights to 7-points in a 42-7 rout. SVU will look to carry the momentum of last week's victory into the home competition with Brevard.
The Tornados are also coming off of a win after they scored a 25-21 victory over the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith. Brevard rushed for 354-yards, and scored all of its touchdowns from the ground game. Kelvin Jeter paced the team with 124-yards on the ground, averaging 11.3 yards per carry. Neville Bryce accounted for another 126 yards on the ground, with a 7.9 average. BC was trailing 21-13 in the third quarter before the rushing game kicked in to give the hosts two more touchdowns and the eventual 25-21 win. The move pushed Brevard to a 2-1 record.
Brevard had an opportunity for a big upset earlier in the season when they faced off against NCAA D.I FCS opponent Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs were an opponent of SVU last year. Gardner-Webb took a 14-point lead in to the half, but the Tornados were not done, and mounted a comeback late in the game. Scoring two touchdowns in the fourth, the tornados got the score to a respectable loss of 14-points against the school that followed the win up with a defeat of NCAA D.I FBS school Akron. Brevard out gained the Bulldogs 206-198 on the ground, and had opportunities to secure a win against Gardner-Webb, but could not keep the D.I school out of the endzone to earn the victory.
SVU will face another foe that has a potent run game, as Brevard is currently averaging 304.0 yards per game on the ground. Jeter leads the way for the tornados, as he has racked up 323 yards, and is averaging a whopping 10.1 yards per carry, or the equivalent of a first down every time he touches the ball. Bryce follows him with 236-yards, and a 7.9 yard per carry average. Brevard has 13-touchdowns on the ground, with quarterback Michael Crumbaker accounting for five of those scores.
Brevard head coach, Paul Hamilton, has been nominated as a Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Candidate. The award is given to a coach who "best exemplifies responsibility and excellence both on and off the field."
The Knights are back to .500 with the win against Ferrum. Head coach DeLane Fitzgerald saw the progress and adjustments needed after a difficult loss to Lindsey Wilson. SVU pounced on the Panthers with Itaaehau's score, and SVU saw a strong output from Steven Scott, who rushed 21-times fro 11-yards. Zach Garner was able to throw for two-scores, and the defense for the Knights kept Ferrum from getting a game-tying field goal in the dying moments of the game. The 20-17 win gave SVU a 2-2 record on the season, and the momentum heading into the contest with Brevard.
Itaaehau's efforts against Ferrum saw him garner NAIA Independent Freshman Player of the Week awards. The reception paid off for the defensive lineman, but his 11-tackles with three for loss also helped the visitors steal the victory away from Ferrum. Itaaehau also sacked the Ferrum quarterback to add to his stats for the day. The freshman's 70-yard return was the second longest in program history behind Rhett Buer's 98-yard return in the 2004 season.
With 12-tackles on the afternoon, Matt Mellor marched closer to the all-time tackles record for SVU. Mellor is now at 219-tackles, and needs 44 more to break the all-time record of 269 held by Shea Owens.