Football Drops Season Opener to Methodist 33-20

Football Drops Season Opener to Methodist 33-20

By Daniel Whitehead

BUENA VISTA, Va.—Despite a strong push in the second quarter by the Southern Virginia University football team, visiting Methodist University earned a 33-20 victory Saturday afternoon at Robert E. Williams Field.

Going down 10-0 after the first quarter, the Knights marched down the field on their first possession of the second quarter led by sophomore quarterback Andy Jones, who finished the 75-yard drive with a 1-yard run to trim the lead to 10-7.

"I thought we kept our composure and kept fighting, which I was happy to see," said Southern Virginia coach DeLane Fitzgerald. "It would have been easy to buckle under pressure when they jumped to a 10-point lead, but I'm happy we kept the desire to win and compete. I thought Andy Jones did a great job of leading the team and made plays to keep us in the game."

The Monarchs increased the margin to 16-7 when Max Reber connected with Vaughn Cross on a 29-yard pass up the middle for a score.

Southern Virginia was presented a great scoring opportunity in the second quarter when Jacob Palmer forced a fumble deep at the Methodist four-yard line. Following three rushing attempts, Jones looked to Michael Goering on an out route but his pass was overthrown out of the reach of Goering and the Knights came up empty.

Later in the quarter, Methodist sustained a long drive to set up a 38-yard field goal, which was blocked by Southern Virginia and returned 62 yards by freshman defensive back Justin Gonzales for a touchdown.  Davis Cragun converted the extra point attempt and the Knights went into halftime trailing just 16-14 with momentum on their side.

The second half presented multiple scoring opportunities for Southern Virginia, but the Knights were unable to convert the drives into points to keep the momentum going.

On Southern Virginia's opening drive of the second half, a Dontrelle Sanford rush for 22 yard drove the Knights into Monarch territory, but a Jones pass moments later was picked off by Methodist's Tyler Mitchell at the 19-yard line to end the scoring threat.

Although the Monarchs would go on to score 17 unanswered points in the second half, the Knights finished the game well with an 11-yard touchdrown catch by Sanford from Jones that ended an eight-play, 75-yard drive in under three minutes.

Methodist finished the game with 28 first downs to Southern Virginia's 17 and threw for 398 yards to the Knights' 148. Jerry Washington led Southern Virginia with 67 yards on the ground, while Sanford earned three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.

"Our guys went out and competed, which is ultimately what I care about," Fitzgerald said. "I'm happy with the way we scored the touchdown to Sanford and kept the fight going. We have areas we need to improve on, which we will address before next week's game at N.C. Wesleyan."

The Knights compete next Saturday, Sept. 14, at N.C. Wesleyan in Rocky Mt., N.C. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.