By Daniel Whitehead
EWING, N.J.—Despite an early safety by senior Dakoda Winsor, the visiting Southern Virginia University football team fell at The College of New Jersey by a close 7-2 score Saturday afternoon at Lions' Stadium in Ewing, N.J.
After a 41-yard punt by Southern Virginia freshman Tyler Snyder was downed at the Lions' one-yard line, Winsor met TCNJ's Brad Young on first down behind the Lions' end zone line and made the tackle to record his second career safety and give Southern Virginia an early 2-0 lead at the 5:46 mark of the opening period.
The Southern Virginia offense was unable to register any scores the remaining three-and-a-half quarters while the Lions earned a touchdown in the second quarter to nab the victory.
With the loss, the Knights fall to 2-2 on the season while the Lions improve to 1-2.
"I thought we showed up and were competitive the entire game, but we didn't do enough in all three phases of the game to get the win," said Southern Virginia head coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "Our defense played well enough that we could have won the ball game, but even they made mistakes at critical points of the game.
"The offense struggled to move the ball because it wasn't getting enough support up front to run and our receivers had too many dropped passes. The bottom line is that The College of New Jersey won the game in all three phases to earn the win."
With just 1:25 remaining before halftime, the Lions' Matt Chierici returned a Snyder punt 25 yards to the Southern Virginia 37-yard line to provide TCNJ an excellent scoring opportunity. Three rushes for a combined 25 yards put the Lions at Southern Virginia's 12-yard line with just 34 seconds before halftime when quarterback Sam Paladino connected with Brandon Brocklehurst for their touchdown reception.
Southern Virginia achieved five first downs to the Lions' 16 and ran for a combined negative five yards while TCNJ earned 114 yards on the ground. The teams were equal in passing comparison as the Knights had 97 yards through the air to the Lions' 129. TCNJ won the possession battle with 32:46 of possession time to the Knights' 27:14 and registered 67 offensive plays to Southern Virginia's 48.
On the defensive front, junior Robert Robbins led the Knights with 11 tackles (3 solo, 8 assisted) and had a half-tackle for loss for minus-two yards. Matthew Gregory was second with 10 tackles (5 solo, 5 assisted), while Winsor had nine combined tackles during the game.
Winsor also performed well on special teams, returning three kickoffs for 61 yards including a long of 30 yards. The West Richland, Wash., native earned a safety last season against VU-Lynchburg. Defensive lineman Robert Crews was credited with a sack for a loss of 10 yards and also tallied a forced fumble.
The Knights have a bye scheduled for next Saturday, Oct. 5, but return home for a three-game homestand beginning Saturday, Oct. 12, with a 1 p.m. contest versus Warner.