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September 28, 2012

Southern Virginia Football: Virginia-Lynchburg Preview

Game Information

Date: September 29, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
Opponent: Virginia-Lynchburg Dragons
All-Time Series: 0-0
Last Meeting: First Meeting

Video/Radio 

Visit Southern Virginia's online athletic broadcasting portal to access a live video stream. 

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

Preview 

The Southern Virginia University football team returns home to Robert E. "Bobby" Williams Field after finishing a two-game road swing to take on fellow USCAA-opponent Virginia University of Lynchburg in its Alumni Game this Saturday, Sept. 29, with a 1 p.m. kickoff. 

"Returning to the fundamentals on offense and defense with execution on special teams will be our areas of emphasis in the game this week," said fourth-year Head Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "We're also excited to return home and play in front of our own crowd, especially as we celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the program." 

In commemoration of the football program's momentous occasion, members the 2007 squad that finished with a 6-5 overall record securing the first and only winning season in program history will be honored at halftime this Saturday. 

Series 

Saturday's matchup between Southern Virginia (1-3) and Virginia-Lynchburg (0-3) marks the first meeting between the two schools. 

The Knights are looking to get back on track after having lost two consecutive road games including last week's 49-30 heartbreaker to Ave Maria University. The Dragons enter the game looking for their first victory of 2012 including dropping last week's home opener to North Carolina-Pembroke 30-7. 

Although Southern Virginia and Virginia-Lynchburg will be meeting for the first time on Saturday, the Knights and Dragons both defeated the George Mason club football team in 2011 and they share two common opponents this season—Edward Waters and Concordia-Selma. 

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 12-25 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 from 2007-08. 

Virginia-Lynchburg Head Coach Willard Bailey 

Willard Bailey begins his second season as head football coach and athletic director at Virginia University of Lynchburg and is in his 40th season as a head football coach at the collegiate level. 

In his first season as head coach, Bailey directed the first-year program after 57 years without football to an impressive 4-6 record. 

Prior to Virginia-Lynchburg, Bailey was head coach at Saint Paul's College (NCAA DII) located in Richmond, Va., from 2004-2010. Bailey spent most of his years at Virginia Union University (NCAA DII) on two different occasions. He started his coaching career at Virginia Union staying 13 years (1971-1983) and leading the Panthers to five conference championships (1973, 1979, 1981-83). His second stint ran from 1995-2003 where he led the program to 44 victories. 

In between his two stints at Virginia Union, Bailey coached at his alma mater Norfolk State University beginning in 1984 while leading the Spartans to an NCAA Division II playoff appearance. 

Willard received his bachelor's degree from Norfolk State University in 1962 while having a standout football career as well at the offensive line and linebacker positions. He received his master's degree from New York University. 

Last Week vs. Ave Maria: L, 30-49 

The Southern Virginia University football team could not overcome an early deficit at Ave Maria University on Saturday as the Knights fell 49-30 to the Gyrenes, who earned their first football victory in their program's two-year history.

The Knights struggled to contain the Ave Maria (1-1) offensive attack led by the Gyrenes' two quarterbacks, Drake Sutherland and Matt Novak, who combined for 248 passing yards and 212 rushing yards and were directly involved in six of the Ave Maria's seven touchdowns on the afternoon.

Ave Maria jumped out to a 9-0 lead just over ten minutes into the first quarter after a 54-yard touchdown run by Novak—the Knights blocked the Gyrenes' extra-point attempt—followed by a 33-yard made field goal by kicker Troy Bray.

Neither team would score for the next 14-plus minutes until Frank Taitano (Washington, D.C.) gave Southern Virginia its first points of the day on a 30-yard touchdown run, one play after sophomore Robert Robbins (Glendale, Ariz.) intercepted the Gyrenes on their own 30-yard line, making it 9-7 Ave Maria with 1:09 left in the half. Ave Maria's Travis Makauskas returned Southern Virginia's ensuing kickoff 57 yards, however, allowing the Gyrenes to add another touchdown 18 seconds before intermission pushing their lead back up to eight (15-7). 

The Knights struck first following halftime with a 20-yard made field goal from Brett Murray (Hollywood, Fla.) bringing Southern Virginia within five points of their hosts early in the third, but Ave Maria responded with two unanswered touchdowns going up 28-10 with just over six minutes remaining in the quarter. 

Following Ave Maria's second score in the third period, Taitano broke off an 85-yard kickoff return making it 28-16 Gyrenes at the 5:50 mark. 

Taitano's timely return could not swing the game's momentum in Southern Virginia's favor, however, as Ave Maria responded with an emphatic 11-play, 85-yard, 5:06 drive culminating in a 15-yard touchdown scramble by Sunderland with 37 seconds left in the third. One play later, Bruce Eisenhauer (Phoenix, Ariz.) connected with Dewayne Beamon (Eastern Wayne, N.C.) on a 68-yard touchdown strike that capped a high octane 36-point third quarter.

The Knights would come no closer, however, as Ave Maria outscored Southern Virginia 14-7 in the fourth quarter securing the program's first win in front of a ruckus home crowd.

Last Week's Standouts 

Beamon had a standout game for Southern Virginia recording a career-best 146 receiving yards on 4 catches, while adding 2 touchdowns for the Knights including his 68-yard touchdown reception from Eisenhauer late in the third quarter. 

Taitano (Washington, D.C.), who earned USCAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance, finished with a career-high 198 all-purpose yards highlighted by his 85-yard kickoff return for a—only the third kickoff return for a touchdown in Southern Virginia football's ten-year history—while adding a 30-yard score on the ground for the Knights' first points of the game.  

This Week: Virginia-Lynchburg Scouting Report 

The Dragons have started the 2012 year 0-3 and are in search of their first victory of the season this Saturday. 

Virginia-Lynchburg will look to break out offensively after having struggled on the offensive end in its three games averaging 6.7 points-per-game and mustering on average 181 yards of total offense. 

Look for the Dragons to show a two-quarterback look with freshmen Tyler Harris and Travis Ingram under center while combining for 230 yards in the air with one touchdown and three interceptions and posing a threat to run, both accounting for 84 and 62 yards rushing respectively. 

Sophomore running back Macha Shinhoster−who led the team last season with 702 rushing yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman−looks to be the feature back with 118 yards on 33 carries so far. Shinstone adds another dimension as the team's second leading receiver with 8 catches for 71 yards out of the backfield. 

Virginia-Lynchburg's primary threat at wide receiver is DaRay Crawford who has a team-leading 10 receptions for 83 yards in his three games played. 

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dragons are led by linebacker Andrew Barrington with a team-high 23 tackles (10 solo, 13 assisted) and 4.5 tackles-for-loss. 

Keith Lewis and Monte' Robinson have created turmoil for opposing receivers in 2012 with both recording two pass break-ups respectively and Lewis grabbing the team's sole interception.