Written by Sean Dahlin
SALEM, Va.—The Southern Virginia University football team scored three touchdowns in the final 17 minutes of the game as they rallied to defeat The Apprentice School 20-14 at Salem Football Stadium on Friday afternoon.
"Our team was resilient and believed we would find a way to win today," said fourth-year Head Football Coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "We capitalized on opportunities in the second half that swung the momentum to our sideline."
Five plays after defensive lineman Tanner Greer (Orem, Utah) recovered an Apprentice fumble, Southern Virginia running back Tod Workman (Springerville, Ariz) made a 25-yard game-winning touchdown run with 12:22 left in regulation to give Southern Virginia its first lead of the day.
The comeback victory was completed by Southern Virginia's defense—giving up a season-low 181 total offensive yards—which stopped the Apprentice offense on both fourth-down attempts in its final two drives of the game.
Apprentice (1-5) took an early 14-0 lead over Southern Virginia (2-4), including the game's first score with 13:20 left in the half as Builders quarterback Paul Morgan hit wide receiver Al Little on a 30-yard touchdown strike.
Southern Virginia initiated its comeback, however, with a 15-play, 87 yard drive spanning 7:34 capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jamal Coates (Conover, N.C.) to cut the deficit to 14-7. The play before the score, the Knights capitalized on a fourth-and-7 conversion as junior quarterback Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.) hit wide receiver Cameron Williams (Sacramento, Calif) who made a beautiful catch for a nine-yard gain to continue the drive.
On the next drive by the Builders, freshman linebacker Oran Kobobel (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) made a momentum-shifting play as he made Southern Virginia's first blocked punt of the season on an Apprentice kick late in the third quarter placing Southern Virginia at the Builders' 10-yard line.
Stevenson—who finished with one touchdown and one interception on 15-for-28 for 139yards—made the best of his opportunity deep in the red zone, connecting on his fourth touchdown pass of the season to freshman wide receiver Frank Taitano (Washington, D.C.) to even the score.
"Mitch [Stevenson] showed good leadership skills today," said Fitzgerald. "The productivity of our offense in the second half was directly related to his decision-making and solid throws."
Senior wide receiver Dewayne Beamon (Eastern Wayne, N.C.) had a game-high five receptions for 48 yards while sophomore Robert Robbins (Glendale, Ariz.) and junior Dakoda Winsor (Richland, Wash.) led all Southern Virginia defenders with 12 tackles each.
The Knights travel on the road on Oct. 13 to take on NCAA Division II Brevard College on for the fourth consecutive season.
Southern Virginia hopes to survive the Tornados this season after losing all three of its previous contests with Brevard, capped by a 41-21 homecoming loss for the Knights last season.