Written by Chris Pendleton
FERRUM, Va.—Despite a solid defensive performance in which the Knights forced five turnovers, the Southern Virginia University football team struggled to put points on the board at Ferrum College on Saturday eventually falling 20-7 to the Panthers.
Matt Gregory (Staunton, Va.) led Southern Virginia's (1-2) defensive effort as the sophomore defensive back made his presence felt all over the field recording a game-high 15 tackles—11 solo and 4 assisted—and forcing Ferrum's (2-1) running back Tyler Brubaker to commit his first of three fumbles on the afternoon early in the second quarter.
After falling behind 7-0 late in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Panthers running back Kyle Chambers that capped a 9-play, 53-yard drive for Ferrum, Southern Virginia turned up its defensive pressure forcing its host into three second-quarter turnovers, including two interceptions by Jake Palmer (Alpine, Utah) to go along Gregory's forced fumble.
The Knights were unable to convert any of their second-quarter takeaways into points, however, and entered intermission down a touchdown. Southern Virginia's halftime deficit might half been worse, if not for Luke Herndon's (Mechanicsville, Va.) blocked field goal on a 42-yard attempt by Ferrum with 24 seconds remaining in the first half.
Southern Virginia's defense wore down after halftime as Brubaker atoned for his early turnover with a 7-yard touchdown run putting the Panthers up 13-0 at the 9:16 mark in the third quarter. Just under six minutes later, Ferrum added its third and final touchdown of the afternoon on a 4-yard run by Tim Reynolds.
Trailing 20-0 late in the forth, Dakoda Winsor (Richland, Wash.) forced Brubaker's third fumble setting up Southern Virginia's only score of the afternoon—a 30-yard touchdown strike from sophomore quarterback Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.) to senior wideout Cameron Williams (Sacramento, Calif.) with 4:44 left to play. Williams, who leads all Southern Virginia receivers with 14 catches for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns this season, had another solid outing for the Knights hauling in 5 receptions for 83 yards.
Although Southern Virginia finally capitalized on one of the five turnovers created by its defense, it was too little too late as the Knights would come no closer before time expired.
The Knights finished with 306 yards of total offense compared to Ferrum's 429 total offensive yards. Southern Virginia also struggled to convert in late-down situations on Saturday going 5-for-14 (36%) on third-down opportunities compared to the Ferrum's 9-for-16 (56%) third-down conversion rate. Southern Virginia also went 0-for-4 on fourth-down plays, while the Panthers converted on their only fourth-down attempt.
Linebacker Robert Robbins (Glendale, Ariz.) was another defensive standout for Southern Virginia adding 9 total tackles (5 solo, 4 assisted) for the Knights.
Southern Virginia travels to Ave Maria, Fla., next Saturday, Sept. 22, for a matchup with USCAA-rival Ave Maria University at noon EDT.
In last year's Nov. 11 season finale, Southern Virginia pulled out a 27-24 comeback victory at home over Ave Maria, highlighted by a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from then-sophomore Winsor.