Written by Daniel Whitehead
Down 7-0 after three quarters, Southern Virginia University fought back in the fourth quarter to knot the score up at 14-14 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. NC Wesleyan looked to gain the advantage by way of a field goal with 4:49 remaining, but Southern Virginia defensive back Grant Darrington made a play around the corner to block the kick where teammate Justin Gonzales was waiting to scoop it up and run 75 yards for the touchdown to go up 21-14.
However, the Battling Bishops clawed their way back to tie the game up with just eight seconds remaining to score a touchdown and knot the game at 21 apiece.
In overtime, the Knights' Keaton Epps forced and recovered a fumble to turn the ball over to Southern Virginia and a chance to grab the win. After a few short run plays, freshman kicker Cragun Davis drilled a 27-yard field goal to lift Southern Virginia to victory, 24-21, their first overtime win since Nov. 1, 2008, when they defeated Kentucky Christian, 30-27, in the extra period.
Junior Jerry Washington ran the ball 25 times for 146 net yards, including an 18-yard scamper, for an average of 5.8 yards per carry.
Sophomore Nate Caldwell carried the ball eight times for 66 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 14 apiece.
Doug Boyer led the receiving corps with three grabs for 20 yards. Quarterback Andy Jones finished 6-for-11 for 48 passing yards. He scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at seven apiece.
Dakoda Winsor led the team with 10 tackles against the Battling Bishops, which consisted of six solo tackles and four assisted. He earned one tackle-for-loss and forced and recovered a fumble on another play. He also tallied one pass break-up during the game.
"We were inspired to play well and give it our best," Winsor said. "After we lost Jake Palmer on the third play of the game, he helped rally us on the sidelines and we played pretty well for three quarters. We made quite a few mistakes in the fourth quarter which we're not proud of, but I think we're starting to gel and understand what our roles are.
"Everyone knows their responsibilities and we're starting to play as a team. We had a lot of positive things happen in the game, but we know we made mistakes to take care of, too. If we can communicate with each other a little better, we'll be fine."
Freshman Justin Gonzales starred for the Knights, coming up with another loose ball from a blocked field goal and returning it 75 yards for a touchdown with just 4:49 remaining in the game. The Peoria, Ariz., native returned a block field goal the prior week at home against Methodist for 66 yards for a touchdown.
The feat marked the first time in program history a player has returned a blocked field goal to the house in consecutive games.
"It feels great to help the team and to feel like I'm contributing," Gonzales said. "When good things happen, I know I'm doing my job. Grant Darrington and the defensive line deserve credit for actually blocking the kicks. I'm just lucky the balls have come my way after they're blocked and I just have to pick it up and run with it. I think our defense is playing well overall."