Written by Sean Dahlin and Chris Pendleton
Date: September 3, 2011
Time: 6 pm EDT
Opponent: Pikeville College
Stadium: Howard Field
All-time Series: 0-0
The Southern Virginia University football team travels to Pikeville, Ky. on Saturday, Sept. 3 to face NAIA-opponent Pikeville College for the first time in program history at 6 p.m. EDT.
In their first road game of the 2011 season, the Knights hope to even their record at 1-1 after dropping last week's season opener at home to Kentucky Christian University 20-6.
Both Kentucky Christian and Pikeville compete in the NAIA's Mid-Southern Conference.
Saturday's matchup between the Southern Virginia Knights and Pikeville Bears marks the first meeting between the two schools.
Although Southern Virginia and Pikeville will be meeting for the first time on Saturday, the Knights and Bears shared two common opponents last season—Kentucky Christian and Lindsey Wilson. Pikeville defeated Kentucky Christian (44-14), but fell to Lindsey Wilson (59-52) in 2010, as did the Knights.
DeLane Fitzgerald is in his third season as head football coach at Southern Virginia and is in his tenth year of coaching collegiate football, making previous stops at his alma mater James Madison University (NCAA DI-FCS), the University of Tennessee at Martin (NCAA DI-FCS) and Bethel College (NAIA).
In his two years as Southern Virginia's head coach, Fitzgerald has posted a 7-16 overall record, including the program's second-winningest season in 2010 (4-7).
Fitzgerald needs only three victories this season to surpass Mike Smith (2007-2008; 9-13) as the winningest coach in Southern Virginia football's nine-year history.
Kentucky high school coaching legend Dudley Hilton is entering his first season as Pikeville's head football coach.
Hilton was hired by Pikeville on Dec. 8, 2010 and took over a program that went a combined 5-17 (3-9 conference) from 2009-2010 under former head coach Joe Johnson.
In his 36-year high school football coaching career in Kentucky, Hilton amassed 345 career victories, matching the state record previously set by Bob Schneider.
During stops at Bell County High School and Bourbon County High School, Hilton recorded an impressive .774 career winning percentage, including 34 consecutive winning seasons, 26 conference championships, 22 district or regional titles, three state championships and one state runner-up finish.
Hilton was recognized as Kentucky's Coach of the Year by three separate organizations and was named 1997 Sportsman of the Year by the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Southern Virginia never led during last week's defensive struggle against Kentucky Christian.
After trailing Kentucky Christian by a touchdown for the better part of three quarters, the Knights cut KCU's lead to one (7-6) near the end of the third quarter when sophomore quarterback Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.) scored on a two-yard scramble following a broken play. Southern Virginia, however, could not convert on its ensuing two-point conversion attempt failing to tie the game at seven apiece.
Despite outgaining Kentucky Christian 305-270 in total offensive yards, Southern Virginia was hurt by turnovers against KCU giving up three interceptions and two fumbles en route to a 20-6 defeat.
Southern Virginia's defense was solid for most of the night, but Kentucky Christian's Deonte Merricks outlasted the tiring Knights gaining 163 rushing yards on 29 carries highlighted by a momentum-changing 47-yard touchdown run with 2:55 left in the third quarter to put KCU up 14-6.
Despite struggling with his passing game during his first career start—Stevenson completed 19 of 44 passes with three interceptions—the sophomore quarterback was Southern Virginia's most effective weapon on the ground Saturday night running for 53 yards on 15 rushes and scoring the Knights' lone touchdown.
Senior captain and linebacker Tommy Davidson (Paradise, Calif.) was a bright spot for Southern Virginia on defense leading the Knights in both unassisted tackles (10) and total tackles (13).
Pikeville will be playing its first regular season game against Southern Virginia on Saturday beginning the Dudley era for the Bears.
While Pikeville has not yet played a counting game in 2011, the Bears did win their exhibition game on Aug. 25 defeating Point University 44-26 in front of a home crowd of 4,006 fans. Pikeville exploded for 34 points in the first half against Point University and finished with 430 yards of total offense—181 yards on the ground and 249 yards through the air.
Junior quarterback Trevor Hoskins played well in Pikeville's exhibition victory completing 12-of-23 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tailback B.J. Iverson appears to be the main rushing threat for Pikeville as he led the team on the ground with 60 yards on 10 carries, while scoring the Bears' first two touchdowns.
Sophomore Hunter Adams, senior Axxel Rivas and freshman Tanner Napier look to be three of Hoskins' primary passing targets as they led the Bears receiving corps with 65, 59 and 55 yards as each player hauled in four catches during the exhibition game.
On the Pikeville defensive side of the ball, sophomore Josh Sammons hopes to be a defensive playmaker as he led the Bears with seven tackles against Point last Saturday, including a fumble recovery.
Southern Virginia's defense will look to slow the Pikeville attack as Davidson's 13 tackles against Kentucky Christian moved him to 222 total tackles during his four-year career as a Knight—only 60 tackles shy of Matt Mellor's all-time career record set in 2010.