By Nick Porter
BUENA VISTA, Va. — The Southern Virginia University football team opened the 2017 campaign at home against Christopher Newport, falling to the Captains 45-17 under the lights in front of a record-breaking crowd.
"We have a long way to go, but I'm extremely encouraged with the way our team continued to fight and improve throughout the game," commented second-year head coach Joe DuPaix.
The Captains (1-0, 1-0 NJAC), who played their final game of 2016 against Southern Virginia, received the opening kickoff and went 77 yards in 10 plays for the first touchdown of the game. After a failed two-point conversion and a 19-yard kickoff return from the Knights' Caeden Knight, Southern Virginia began their drive from the CNU 26.
On the Knights' first offensive play of the game, running back Simi Moala took it to the house with a 74-yard rush to get the Knights (0-1, 0-1 NJAC) on the board. A Jackson Hatch extra point gave the Knights a 7-6 lead just minutes into the game.
Christopher Newport regained the lead on the ensuing drive and scored again two minutes later, after taking advantage of a special teams miscue on fourth down.
With a 21-7 lead after the first quarter, the Captains scored a touchdown in the rest of the periods and tacked on a field goal in the third as well.
Hatch kicked a 26-yard field goal for the Knights in the beginning of the fourth quarter, and quarterback Tate Briggs, who replaced Ty Jones during the second half, connected with Albert Green IV for the last score of the game.
In last year's game, the Knights were shutout by CNU, 41-0, and had only nine first downs and 88 yards of offense. Tonight, the Knights earned 18 first downs and 336 yards of total offense.
Moala led all rushers with 123 yards. John Harris picked up 41 yards on the ground, while Green had 76 yards receiving on three catches. Jones, last year's NJAC Offensive Rookie of the Year, passed for 39 yards and rushed for 17.
Defensively the Knights were led by Mitch Orme who had 10 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. 2016 NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Year, Neil Davis, had eight tackles. Defensive end Marlon Washington recovered a fumble for the Knights.
Southern Virginia continues New Jersey Athletic Conference play next week against Rowan. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.