September 14, 2012

Southern Virginia Football: Ferrum College Preview

Game Information

Date: September 15, 2012
Time: 1:00 pm EDT
Opponent: Ferrum College Panthers
All-Time Series: 1-3
Last Meeting: September 18, 2010 vs. Ferrum (W, 20-17)

Media

Watch live video of Thursday's broadcast by Stretch Internet or follow live stats at ferrumpanthers.com.

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

Preview

The Southern Virginia University football team travels 92 miles south to Ferrum, Va., to face its second consecutive USA South-opponent Ferrum College on Saturday, Sep. 15 at 1 p.m. EDT.

"I have felt for a long time that the Ferrum program is one of the best-coached Division III football programs in the country," said fourth-year Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "The players are disciplined and work hard to execute their game plan, so we need to make sure we limit our mistakes and penalties this week to give us a chance to win the game."

After a solid win at home against North Carolina Wesleyan last Saturday 24-14, the Knights look to take that momentum in search of attaining their first road victory of 2012 against the Panthers.  Ferrum will enter Saturday's game having defeated Shenandoah University−first-year members of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference−on the road 14-7 last week.  

Series

Saturday's matchup between Southern Virginia (1-1) and Ferrum College (1-1) marks the fifth meeting between the two schools and the first contest since 2010.

Ferrum has won three of its four previous contests with Southern Virginia; however, the Knights took the most recent matchup in 2010 pulling out a close-fought 20-17 victory on the road and will look to gain their second straight win over the Panthers this week.

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 a 12-23 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.

Ferrum Head Coach Dave Harper

Dave Harper begins his second season as the head football coach and 21st season on the coaching staff at Ferrum College.

In his inaugural season as head coach, Harper led the Panthers in 2011 to a 7-3 overall record including going 6-1 and finishing runner-up in the USA South Athletic Conference while 16 of his players earned all-conference honors.

Off the field, Harper won the 2011 College Mentor of the Year award, being the first coach to ever do so in Ferrum Athletics history.

Harper's collegiate football coaching experience has all been at his alma mater Ferrum where he first served as defensive coordinator starting in 1993 and then as offensive coordinator at the beginning of 1999. As offensive coordinator, the Ferrum offensive unit finished 12th or better in the nation in total offense in 9 of his first 10 seasons.

A graduate in 1989, Harper earned his bachlor's degree and was two-time All-American linebacker for Ferrum. Harper was also the first Ferrum athlete to have his jersey retired, and in 2000 was inducted into the Ferrum College Alumni Sports Hall of Fame.

Last Week vs. North Carolina Wesleyan: W, 24-14

The Southern Virginia University football team won its home opener at Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field defeating North Carolina Wesleyan 24-14 Saturday night earning its first victory of the young 2012 season.

The special teams played a particularly important role in the game for Southern Virginia highlighted by senior Cameron Williams (Sacramento, Calif.) widening the scoring margin with a momentum-swinging 58-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the third quarter to put Southern Virginia in the lead 14-6.

Williams was also a key cog on the offensive side of the ball as well making a 40-yard touchdown catch thrown by quarterback Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.) with 9:39 left in the game.

The Battling Bishops had a punt return for a touchdown of their own as Dwayne Hollis returned a punt 58 yards to score the first points of the game and give North Carolina Wesleyan a 6-0 lead.

Southern Virginia, however, stopped the North Carolina Wesleyan momentum by way of special teams play with senior captain Dylan Hall (Redding, Calif.), who also recorded 1.5 sacks in the game, blocked Battling Bishops kicker B.G. Howell's extra point attempt after Hollis' touchdown run.

With 12 and 7 minutes left in the second quarter, both senior defensive lineman Luke Herndon(Mechanicsville, Va.) and sophomore linebacker Robert Robbins (Glendale, Ariz.) blocked field goal attempts from 36 and 29 yards away respectively. 

With 1:14 left in the third quarter, the North Carolina Wesleyan offense knotted the game 14-14 off a 10-yard touchdown run from quarterback John Jackson and a successful two-point conversion trick play as wide receiver John Young hit Greg Edwards in the endzone.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Knights, however, as Southern Virginia went on a 10-0 run to finish the game, highlighted by C. Williams' 40-yard touchdown catch.

With Saturday's win, Southern Virginia (1-1) improved upon its home opener record to 3-7 in the program's ten year history, giving NCAA Division III North Carolina Wesleyan (1-1) its first loss of the season.

Last Week's Standouts

Cameron Williams racked up 118 all-purpose yards and two scores as he returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and caught 3 balls for 60 yards, including a 40-yard strike from Stevenson to score the final touchdown of the game.

Junior linebacker Dakoda Winsor (Richland, Wash.) earned USCAA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against North Carolina Wesleyan last Saturday recording 12 total tackles (5 solo, 7 assisted) and one interception.

Sophomore Matt Gregory (Staunton, Va.) also had a solid performance adding 9 total tackles (8 solo, 1 assisted) and grabbing an interception of his own. 

This Week —Ferrum Scouting Report 

Ferrum is in search of a USA South Athletic Conference title in 2012, building off a banner year in 2011 as Harper led the program to a runner-up conference finish with an overall record of 7-3 (6-1 conference)—the program's first winning season since 2008.  

Look for the Panthers' offensive attack that averages 25 points-per-game to go through first-year starting sophomore quarterback Tim Reynolds. He has thrown for 275 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, while also leading the team in rushing with 117 yards on 32 carries and one more score through two games this season. 

Running back Jericho James is another viable threat out of the backfield as the team's second-leading rusher with 89 yards and 2 touchdowns so far in 2012. 

The captain of the receiving corps and long ball threat is senior Derrick West who averages 20-plus yards-per-catch while accumulating a team-high 121 yards through the air and 1 touchdown. Look for Mayka Jackson and B.J. Jennings to contribute catching passes from Reynolds as they have totaled 5 catches for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns respectively. 

Ferrum returns eight starters that led the USA South Athletic Conference in total defense a year ago. 

Captaining the defense this season is senior defensive back Tae Motley−who was named to the D3Senior Classic Preseason All-American Team and leads the team in tackles with 14 total  tackles (8 solo, 6 assisted). Ray Hines, Marcco McNeal and Kenny Tapscott are also returning defensive back starters for the Panthers.  

The defensive line also breeds a wealth of experience with DeRon Dillard, Chris Freycinet, Lynwood Pickett and Shawn Winfrey returning from last season's front line. Look for Pickett and Freycinet−both All-USA South First Team selections in 2011−to put the pressure on the outside while Dillard and Winfrey stop up the middle this season against opposing offenses. 

On special teams, kicker Scott Puschell returns for his senior year and punter Wes Franklin will handle the punting duties after earning All-USA South Second Team and VaSID All-State Second Team honors in 2011.