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September 6, 2012

Southern Virginia Football: North Carolina Wesleyan Preview

Game Information

Date: September 8, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm EDT
Opponent: North Carolina Wesleyan
All-Time Series: 0-2
Last Meeting: September 9, 2006 vs. North Carolina Wesleyan (L, 7-42)

Radio 

Audio of Saturday's game will be broadcast by AM-1450, WREL.

Preview

The Southern Virginia University football team will host North Carolina Wesleyan in its 2012 home opener at Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field on Sep. 8 at 7 p.m. Southern Virginia's home opener will also be its only night home game of the season.

The Knights will face the first of two consecutive opponents from the NCAA Division III USA South Athletic Conference−next Saturday they travel to match up with Ferrum College−when Southern Virginia welcomes North Carolina Wesleyan this Saturday.

Entering into the program's tenth season, Southern Virginia is looking for its first victory of the season over its opponent returning home to Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field looking to improve upon its 2-7 all-time record in home openers. The Battling Bishops will enter Saturday's game having defeated a tough Ohio Northern team in a 16-13 overtime victory last week. 

"North Carolina Wesleyan will be coming into our house on a high after defeating a good Ohio Northern [University] team in overtime," said Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "We need to break their momentum and earn our first win to propel us into the rest of the season." 

Series 

Saturday's matchup between Southern Virginia (0-1) and North Carolina Wesleyan (1-0) marks the third meeting between the two schools and the first contest since 2006. 

The Knights hope to get their first football victory over the Battling Bishops in 2012 after losing both of its previous matchups in 2005 (L, 15-36) and 2006 (L, 7-42) away and at home respectively. 

Southern Virginia Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald 

DeLane Fitzgerald is in his fourth season as head football coach at Southern Virginia and is in his eleventh 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 three-plus years as Southern Virginia's head coach, Fitzgerald has posted an 11-23 overall record, including back-to-back 4-7 season in 2010 and 2011. 

Fitzgerald became the winningest coach in Southern Virginia football's nine-year history last season, passing Mike Smith who went 9-13 overall (8-13 NAIA) from 2007-08. 

North Carolina Wesleyan Head Coach Mark Henninger

Mark Henninger begins his fifth season as the head football coach at North Carolina Wesleyan. 

In his first four seasons, Henninger has led the Battling Bishops to a 23-18 overall record, including a 20-8 mark in the USA South Athletic Conference, two league titles and an NCAA playoff berth. 

Prior to stepping in as head coach, Henninger served as assistant coach at North Carolina Wesleyan for four seasons (2004-07) including its inaugural season in 2004. He played an instrumental role in the Battling Bishops' storybook 2007 in which the program earned its first NCAA Tournament berth and playoff win­, defeating #1 seed Washington and Jefferson 35-34 in the first round. 

Before joining North Carolina Wesleyan in 2004, Henninger enjoyed success after a four-year stint as assistant coach at his alma mater, Wittenberg University, as the team made three NCAA Division III playoff appearances and amassed a 41-7 record. He also made stops at NCAA Division III affiliates such as Wartburg College and Milikin University along with coaching for a season in Germany for the Hamburg Blue Devils. 

Henninger received his bachelor's degree from Wittenberg and was a four-year letter winner at safety for the Tigers. 

Last Week vs. Morehead State: L, 0-55 

The Southern Virginia University football team opened its 2012 season with a loss last Thursday on the road as Morehead State defeated the Knights 55-0.

NCAA Division I FCS-foe Morehead State jumped out to a 24-0 lead after the first quarter of action and continued to roll on the offensive side of the ball as Eagles quarterback Zach Lewis finished the day 16-for-22 with 4 passing touchdowns and one score on the ground.

The Knights were unable to reach the end zone in their 2012 debut although freshman quarterback Andy Jones (Salt Lake City, Utah) led the offense into Morehead State territory on three separate occasions during his first collegiate start completing 11 of his 19 pass attempts for 89 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Southern Virginia finished the season opening game with 171 total yards on offense while the Eagles tallied 499 total offensive yards.

Last Week's Standouts

Senior punter Brenton Estorffe (Mooloolaba, Australia) earned USCAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors by USA College Football, Inc., for his performance last Thursday, pinning Morehead State twice inside their own 15-yard line and punting the ball six times for a game-high 40.7 yards-per-punt average while also recording four total tackles (3 solo, 1 assisted).

On the defensive side of the ball, first-year Knight junior defensive back Jacob Palmer (Alpine, Utah) tallied a team-high 8 total tackles (3 solo, 5 assisted) last week.

This WeekNorth Carolina Wesleyan Scouting Report 

North Carolina Wesleyan is looking to build off the solid victory in its home opener last Saturday over fellow-NCAA Division III opponent Ohio Northern University. 

After a disappointing 2011 campaign finishing 2-8 (2-5 conference), the Battling Bishops look to return to their winning ways this season as Henninger led the football program to a 21-10 (18-3 conference) record from 2008-10, which included back-to-back USA South Conference Championships (2008, 09). 

North Carolina Wesleyan will start with senior quarterback John Jackson who completed 2 of his 7 pass attempts against Ohio Northern highlighted by an 11-yard completion to wide receiver Te'Sean Glass in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

Also look for freshman Laron Ellerbe to take some snaps behind center as Ellerbe started last Saturday's game throwing for 88 yards with a touchdown and interception while also rushing for another 89 yards. 

Running Jacques Alston serves as a dual threat out of the backfield gaining 59 yards on the ground in 9 carries and leading the team with 4 receptions for 49 yards against Ohio Northern. Look for receivers Timaine Moore, Greg Edwards and Glass to also be involved in the passing attack as they combined with 5 catches for 64 yards last week. 

The story of the game against Ohio Northern was North Carolina Wesleyan's defense that picked off four passes and created two turnovers on downs. 

Captaining the defense this season is senior cornerback and preseason All-America selection Dwayne Hollis. He is also an explosive threat as kick returner, having racked up 538 yards and touchdown return in 2011. 

Safeties Ed Harrington and Sam Smith will cause opposing offenses problems as both had banner outings on Saturday with Harrington totaling a game-high 13 tackles (7 solo, 6 assisted) and Smith grabbing two interceptions. 

The special teams will look for senior kicker B.G. Howell to perform the kicking and punting duties. In dramatic fashion, Howell connected on a game-winning field goal in overtime against Ohio Northern last Saturday to seal the win for the Battling Bishops.