By Daniel Whitehead
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Having already clinched the program's most successful season in program history over the past two weeks, the Southern Virginia University football team capped its historic year with a 40-0 shutout win over Southwestern Saturday afternoon at Robert E. Williams Field in Buena Vista, Va.
The shutout was the program's second in school history with the first coming in last week's 30-0 victory over Alfred State. The Knights (8-2) held the Pirates (0-10) to three yards on 31 rush attempts and just 97 yards through the air while countering with 188 yards rushing and 280 passing yards of their own. Altogether, Southern Virginia earned 468 yards of total offense to 100 for Southwestern.
"With it being Senior Day and with many members of the team having family in town for this weekend, I was most impressed that our guys didn't lose focus on the game but maintained it all week," said Southern Virginia head coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "It's a difficult achievement to earn back-to-back shutouts, but our defense once again rose to the occasion.
"The leadership of these four seniors has been extraordinary. We were extremely blessed to have Dee on our team this year, and Jake has been a tremendous leader both on and off the field the past two years. Tyler and Dakoda have combined to earn the most wins in school history throughout their careers. Football aside, these are great people and great leaders and they'll be missed."
Southern Virginia struck early in the game on its first possession and finished a seven-play, 66-yard drive with a 15-yard pass from Andy Jones to Sanford to go up 7-0 at the 11:16 mark of the first quarter.
The Knights scored twice in the second quarter, the first coming on a 36-yard rumble by fullback Nate Caldwell early in the period. Southern Virginia scored again with only eight seconds remaining before halftime to earn a 20-0 advantage at the break.
Midway through the third quarter, junior Matthew Gregory recovered a Pirate fumble in the endzone for a touchdown to go up 26-0. The Knights forced a punt on Southwestern's ensuing possession and quickly scored another touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Jones to Sanford.
Junior Tod Workman would score on a one-yard rush early in the fourth quarter to provide the final score of 40-0 for the Knights.
Defensively, the Knights combined for 16 tackles for loss for a total of 77 yards lost for the Pirates. Junior Colter Evans led the team with eight tackles (3 solo, 5 assisted), while Sam Mellor, Winsor and Robert Crews each had six. The team also registered nine sacks for a loss of 51 yards led by three sacks from Crews, two from Mellor and 1.5 from Keaton Epps.
Defensive back Daryl Adams recorded an interception, Epps had a team-high three pass breakups and Crews earned two hurries in preserving the Knight shutout.