Written by Sean Dahlin and Chris Pendleton
Date: November 19, 2011
Time: 1 p.m. EDT, Senior Night
Opponent: Ave Maria Gyrenes
All-Time Series: 0-0
Audio of Saturday's game will be broadcast by 3WZ-95.7 FM. Visit Southern Virginia's online athletic broadcasting portal to access a live audio stream.
In its second consecutive home game and final game of the 2011 season, the Southern Virginia University football team will host fellow USCAA and NAIA Independent member Ave Maria University.
The Knights will recognize their six seniors—Thomas Canady (Bedford, Va.), Tommy Davidson (Paradise, Calif.), Josh Hodges (Irmo, S.C.), Brett Kassel (Madison, Miss.), Ryan McGinn (Bedford, Texas) and Byron Tillery (Hampton, Va.)—at halftime of Saturday's Senior Day matchup with the Gyrenes.
Coach Fitzgerald hopes to end his season on a high note by sending his seniors out with a victory, while Ave Maria—a first-year program from Ave Maria, Fla.—is looking for its first football victory after beginning its inaugural season 0-8.
Saturday's matchup between Southern Virginia (3-7; 1-7 NAIA) and fellow-NAIA Independent member Ave Maria (0-8) marks the first meeting between the two schools.
Although Southern Virginia and Ave Maria play for the first time on Saturday, the schools have faced two common opponents this season, Edward Waters and Webber International, with the Knights and Gyrenes combining for an 0-4 record against their shared opponents.
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 plus years as Southern Virginia's head coach, Fitzgerald has posted a 10-22 overall record (5-22 NAIA), including the second-best season in program history in 2010 (4-7).
Two weeks ago, Fitzgerald became the winningest coach in Southern Virginia football's nine-year history, passing Mike Smith who went 9-13 overall (8-13 NAIA) from 2007-08.
Barry Fagan has been tasked to guide the Ave Maria football team through its inaugural season.
Before taking over the Ave Maria football program, Fagan made previous stops as offensive coach and coordinator at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels. He has worked at NCAA Division I FBS schools such as the University of Wisconsin, Louisiana State University (LSU) and Miami of Ohio. Fagan also coached at NCAA Division II Ferris State University with his 1995 team leading the nation in offense and advancing to the D-II national semifinals.
Most recently, Fagan served as the offensive coordinator for NCAA Division II Hillsdale College where he unleashed explosive offenses including record-breaking seasons in the program's 118-year history in 2007 and 2008.
Fagan attended Penn State University where he played as wide receiver under head coach Joe Paterno and received his bachelor's degree.
Turnovers hurt the Southern Virginia University football team last Saturday as the Knights gave the ball away six times during a 15-38 home loss to fellow NAIA-Independent opponent Edward Waters University.
Edward Waters jumped out to an early lead over the Knights scoring twice in the first quarter—the second touchdown coming after a Southern Virginia fumble—to go up 14-0 with 4:10 still remaining in the opening period.
Running its fast-paced, no-huddle offense, Sothern Virginia responded quickly to its 0-14 deficit by driving the ball 58-yards for a touchdown in only 1:58 on its ensuing possession followed by a quick-strike scoring drive and two-point conversion that lasted 1:28 to take a 15-14 lead over the Tigers early in the second quarter—both touchdowns were scored by freshman running back Jerry Washington (Gloucester, Va.), who leads the Knights this season with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Those would be Southern Virginia's last points of the afternoon, however, as the Tigers began keying in on Washington, while the Knights struggled with their passing game—sophomore quarterback Mitch Stevenson (Muskagee, Okla.) completed only 15-of-41 passing attempts on the afternoon for 128 yards, while throwing three picks.
Edward Waters ran off 24 unanswered points in over the final 40 minutes of play as the Tigers preyed on the Knights winning 38-15.
Southern Virginia finished with a season-low 258 yards of total offense compared to Edward Waters 405 total offensive yards.
Washington had another great outing last Saturday scoring both of the Knights' touchdowns and adding a two-point conversion, while finishing just shy of his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season with 98 yards on the ground.
Senior linebacker Tommy Davidson (Paradise, Calif.) was again the Knights most dominant presence on defense recording a game-high 14 tackles (eight solo and six assists) in the loss.
Fagan is looking to close the inaugural season of Ave Maria football with its ever-so elusive first program victory.
Both sides of the ball for the first-year Ave Maria team have struggled this season, mustering only 216 yards per game on offense and giving up 42 combined touchdowns and 441 yards per game on defense.
The Gyrenes have relied on a two-quarterback system so far led by freshmen Jack Cusumano and Tim Morley, combining for 822 yards, 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
Sophomore wide receiver Chris Fahey has solidified himself as the primary threat in the Ave Maria passing game making 17 catches for 220 yards and the Gyrenes' only two touchdowns through the air this season. Senior tight end Colin Voreis has given Cusumano and Morley a solid threat down the middle of the field with 10 catches for 109 yards.
Freshman running backs Rashad Kelley and Dipo Kolawole have been two bright spots in a bleak Gyrenes offense as they have rushed for 426 and 371 yards respectively for three of the six team touchdowns on the ground.
Sophomore defensive lineman Victor Sanchez has been the disruptive threat for the Ave Maria defense this season leading the team with 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks while also recording the second-most tackles on the team with 40 (26 solo, 14 assists).