By Daniel Whitehead
BUENA VISTA, Va.—With a dominating performance in the second quarter, the Southern Virginia University football team earned a 35-20 victory over visiting Warner University Saturday afternoon at Robert E. Williams Field in Buena Vista, Va.
The victory improved the Knights' record to 3-2 on the year while the Royals fall to 0-7. Southern Virginia tallied 179 yards on the ground on 46 carries and threw for 215 yards to achieve 17 first downs in the win. The Knights recorded 394 yards on 70 plays to Warner's 295 total yards of offense.
"The first three quarters of the game were the best we've played all season," said Southern Virginia head coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "This was the most mentally prepared we've been for a game so far. Our offense was moving the ball down the field and our defense was lights out. I'd like to see us finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals, but I thought the offense was great otherwise and our coaching staff did a nice job of mixing up our play calls.
"Most importantly, everyone saw the field today. Our backups have practiced hard and earned the right to play. We have 35 guys who hadn't played yet and they all saw the field today."
Sophomore quarterback Andy Jones went 10-for-20 passing on the day for 194 yards, including a 53-yard reception to receiver Dee Sanford for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Sanford would finish the game with 130 yards on seven catches. Rex Winslow, Jacob Haubner and Tyler Snyder all earned time directing the offense after Jones was relieved of his duties. Winslow went 3-for-3 passing for 21 yards.
On a 10-play, 44-yard drive at the end of the first quarter, Jones led the Knights down the field before the team was stalled and settled for a 32-yard field goal by freshman Davis Cragun moments into the second quarter. Cragun was a perfect 4-for-4 on the day on field goal attempts, including a long of 34 yards with 1:25 remaining in the second quarter. The Fruit Heights, Utah, native also converted field goals of 33 yards and 26 yards, respectively, in the second half.
With only one minute remaining in the first half, sophomore Sam Mellor earned a safety to put the Knights up 15-0. After Mellor's safety, senior Dakoda Winsor returned the ensuing punt 39 yards to the Royals' 45-yard line with only 51 seconds left before halftime. Jones then completed a pass to Sanford for 24 yards and a 13-yard pass to Michael Kilstrom a few plays later. Sophomore Nate Caldwell punched it in from the four-yard line two plays later to lift Southern Virginia to a 22-0 lead with only six seconds before halftime.
Junior Tod Workman scored on a four-yard run early in the third quarter to give the Knights a 29-0 lead. Caldwell led Southern Virginia with 50 yards on the ground on 10 carries with a long of 14 yards, averaging five yards per carry.
On the defensive end, Winsor led the team with nine tackles (4 solo, 5 assisted), while freshman Nathan Barrett finished with six tackles. Mellor accounted for three tackles for loss (17 yards), while Matthew Gregory and Jared Crawford each had two. Crawford also forced a fumble.
The Knights next compete Saturday, Oct. 19, for a Homecoming matchup with Apprentice at Robert E. Williams Field at Parry McCluer High School. The game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.