Knights Defeat Guilford Behind Career Day from Stevenson

Photo by Justo Photography
Photo by Justo Photography

Written by Chris Pendleton

GUILFORD, N.C.—Sophomore quarterback Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.) threw for a season-high three touchdowns and ran for two more on Saturday as the Southern Virginia University football team defeated NCAA Division III Guilford College 55-24.

Stevenson went 25-of-36 for a career-high 460 passing yards—the third highest single-game total in school history—as the Knights spoiled Guilford's homecoming while scoring the third-most points in school history in front of the Quakers' home crowd. 

Dewayne Beamon (Eastern Wayne, N.C.) was Stevenon's favorite target at Guilford as the Knights' senior receiver had the best game of his 2011 campaign hauling in five catches for 114 yards, including two touchdowns.

Senior linebacker Brett Kassel (Madison, Miss.) also had a game to remember collecting a school-record three interceptions to go along with a solo fumble recovery leading to 21 of the Knights 55 total points.

The Knights scored on their opening possession when freshman running back Jerry Washington (Gloucester, Va.) capped off a 14-play, 83-yard Southern Virginia drive that lasted 3:19 with a 4-yard touchdown run—the first of two short touchdown runs for Washington on the day.

Guilford responded with a 10-play, 71-yard touchdown drive on its first possession, followed by a 31-yard field goal just before the end of the first quarter to take a 10-7 lead over the Knights.

After Southern Virginia regained a 14-10 lead on Washington's second touchdown run with under two minutes left in the second quarter, Kassel picked off Guilford's Zac Halbert at the Quakers' 34-yard line with 68 seconds remaining in the half. Three plays later, Stevenson scored on a 15-yard keeper giving Southern Virginia a 20-10 lead just before the break.

Turnovers continued to hurt the Quakers in the second half as junior linebacker Luke Herndon (Mechanicsville, Va.) recovered a Guilford fumble on the second play of the third quarter leading to a 20-yard Brett Murray (Hollywood, Fla.) field goal making it 23-10 Knights.

The Quakers struck back quickly, however, scoring only 35 seconds later on a 2-play, 76-yard drive that cut their deficit to a single touchdown. (17-23).

From that point on, it was all Southern Virginia as the Knights scored 32 unanswered points before Guilford punched in a 1-yard run with 1:54 remaining in the game.

Following a 52-yard touchdown pass from Stevenson to Beamon with 7:24 left in the third quarter, Guilford muffed its ensuing kickoff return and Kassel recovered the ball at the Quakers 40-yard line. Three plays later, Stevenson scrambled 7-yards into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon putting the Knights up 36-17. 

Two possessions later, Southern Virginia went 65 yards on 6 plays over 1:27 culminating in a 19-yard touchdown strike from Stevenson to Beamon as Guilford's defense began to tire from the Knights no-huddle offense that ran 100 offensive plays on Saturday—the second most in program history.

Stevenson would throw for one more touchdown in the fourth quarter—a 36-yard pass to Chris Harper (Lynchburg, Va.) for the sophomore's first score of the season.

With 4:35 left in the game, Brick Wilce (Willow Springs, Mo.) returned a Guilford punt 39 yards for Southern Virginia's final touchdown becoming the first Knights to run back a punt in the program's nine-year history.

On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Tommy Davidson (Paradise, Calif.) recorded seven solo tackles and three assists, tying Shea Owens for second-place on Southern Virginia's all-time tackles list—only 20 behind all-time leader Matt Mellor.

After playing each season since 2007, Guilford held a 3-1 series advantage over Southern Virginia coming into Saturday's matchup with the Knights. Prior to Saturday's win, Southern Virginia's only victory in its all-time series with Guilford came last season when the Knights defeated the Quakers 36-21 in Buena Vista, Va., on Oct. 9.

Southern Virginia will host NCAA Division II Brevard University its homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. Audio of Saturday's game will be available at Southern Virginia's online broadcasting portal.