Sunday, September 24, 2017

Panthers Lose Close Contest to Hawks 31-28

Under a perfect sky, and a nice size homecoming crowd, Ferrum went toe to toe with the Huntingdon Hawks. This was a game that could and did come down to the wire, but unfortunately, Huntingdon ended up on top. Some will say Ferrum got a bad call on the onside kick toward the end of the game....more on that later.
What I saw boiled down to a ball control offense of Huntingdon vs. an offense that was more dependent on big plays to score or set up the score. Ferrum's first touchdown came after a Brian Mann 83 yard carry to the Huntingdon 5. Ferrum's second touchdown was on a 51 yard completion to Johnny White. The third score came on a 53 yard pass and run to Nick Pearce, and the final touchdown came after a hook and ladder play.....a 23 yard pass to Johnny White, and a pitch to Dre Davis who picked up another 24 yards. Some will ask why is this important? A touchdown is a touchdown, but one thing is for sure. The other team cannot score a touchdown if they don't have the ball. My point is ball control equates to time of possession and Huntingdon won the time of possession 34.18 to 20:25 (Not sure these numbers add up, but this is how it is reflected in the stats.....thinking the TOP in the third quarter may be inaccurate) At any rate, I am quite sure Ferrum lost the time of possession battle.
On the other side of the ball, a defense that had been very solid in it's first three games was up against a tougher opponent Saturday. It was again a strong effort, and they made life difficult for Huntingdon, but it seemed that they were on the field a lot.  While there was another defensive interception, the Hawks still gained 201 yards through the air, and picked up  three passing touchdowns.
Overall, it was as if Ferrum would catch up, but could never pass Huntingdon. The Panthers are a strong team, and I see a huge improvement over last year, but the rest of the season will have to be one game at a time.

Now as for the "illegal touching" call on the onside kick. I was standing at the top of the bleachers just about even with the 45 where the ball had to travel to be a legal kick. As the play progressed, I initially thought the ball was touched. I knew it was going to be close, and with all of the initial excitement and cheering, I was nervous to say the least. I knew Ferrum recovered the kick, but I saw a Ferrum players hand (Johnny White)appear to reach out before it had travelled 10 yards. I could not be sure if he did or did not touch it, but I was hoping that somehow, Ferrum would not be found in violation......this was not to be. Huntingdon took over possession and ran out the clock.
I have looked at the replay from all angles on the replay, and I paid attention to two things. Was it evident that White's hand did or did not touch the ball? To me, it appears he does not touch the ball.
Secondly, did the motion of the ball appear to change after it went past Whites hand? To me I thought it changed. So I was conflicted after watching the video. In my opinion, there is virtually no way, in a situation like that to expect a consistent rotation on such an odd shaped ball. In my opinion, Ferrum legally recovered the kick, but it was a very close call situation. It was a tough loss, but unfortunately, it is still a loss.
Hang in there Ferrum, more wins are coming.

Friday, September 22, 2017

GAMEDAY: Huntingdon @ Ferrum

Homecoming 2017, and Ferrum finds itself with a big game for the home fans. This week the Panthers host the Huntingdon Hawks, and not only is it a big game as far as the conference standings go, it will be a tough game..........but it will be tough for both teams. These two teams are two of the best in the conference, and both will want the win, but who will want it more?
After the loss to Averett last week, Ferrum must win.......not just want to win, they MUST win
Huntingdon has a strong running game, but Ferrum has an excellent defense against the run. So far, Ferrum has not given up a rushing touchdown. Last week, Averett could not manage 100 total yards of offense. So there is no question that the Ferrum defense is solid. There is also no question, that Huntingdon can put up strong offensive numbers. Through three games, they are averaging 217 yards on the ground, and almost 300 yards through the air.
Their defense is suspect. They are allowing a total of almost 500 yards per game. (204 ypg rushing, and 294 ypg passing) They are allowing just over 35 ppg.
Ferrum is averaging 97 ypg on the ground, and 230 ypg through the air.
Opponents are averaging just 96 rushing yards against Ferrum, and 115 yards passing against the Panthers. The Ferrum defense is only giving up just over 15 points per game.

This is a winnable game, and it must happen.......if your at the game Saturday, yell loud!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Week 4: Predictions

Last week I was 4-1, giving me an overall record of 17-6

Huntingdon @ Ferrum

It's homecoming at Ferrum, and the Panthers host the defending conference champions the Huntingdon Hawks. Both teams come into Saturday at 2-1, and for each, it will be both's toughest conference test yet.
The number one conference offense...Huntingdon, vs. the number one conference defense. This could be a barn burner for sure, but it will take an effort of excellence for Ferrum to end up on top. Get ready for a really good game.

Huntingdon  26

Ferrum  20

Here is the rest of Saturday's games:

Brevard @ LaGrange

Maryville @ North Carolina Wesleyan

Methodist @ Averett

Monday, September 18, 2017

Your Seat Is Waiting For You

This Saturday, Ferrum will host its third consecutive home game as defending conference champion Huntingdon comes to W.B. Adams Stadium. It;s homecoming and family day this weekend, and Ferrum must regroup after the disheartening loss to Averett . While this loss hurt, especially as well as the team played, Ferrum will need to reach down deep, and pull it together, because, Huntingdon is a stronger team than Averett.
So what will it take for the Panthers to get a win? It will take total focus and excellent execution in ALL PHASES OF THE GAME.

Is this one Ferrum can win? Absolutely! This however will not be easy, and if there is anything that could help the Panthers to an upset, it will be a loud, and large home crowd. You need to be at the game. Your attendance is a must, and this is a must win, so try to get to  the game........The Panthers need to hear your support!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Numbers Don't Lie.....Usually
This Time They Did

This, despite the outcome was a really good football game. Both teams battled hard the entire contest, but if you just looked at the stats, you would think it came out differently than it did.

Just a few numbers from Saturday's game:

First Downs
Ferrum 18
Averett 4

Yards Rushing
Ferrum 157
Averett 63

Yards Passing
Ferrum 191
Averett 36

These on the surface seem to give Ferrum the upper hand, but there were other things that  overshadowed these numbers.

2 interceptions for the Averett returned for a touchdown
2 blocked punts for the Averett defense  One returned for a touchdown, and one that set up another touchdown.
1 blocked field goal attempt

Final score: Averett 19   Ferrum 7

Sometimes two out of three ain't for the three phases of this game, Ferrum looked really strong on defense, and okay on offense......this was mainly due to the Cougar defense being a very solid unit. Special teams however, the third phase of the game, struggled to say the least. Ferrum could have had more than two punts blocked......Averett was in the backfield all day in the punter's face. This has to be fixed. Not sure what the answer is, but I am sure of one thing. The coaches will make the necessary adjustments to fix it.

Had a comment on a blog post recently asking if I thought Ferrum can legitimately contend for the conference title? My answer was a resounding yes. After yesterday, my answer is still yes, but boy the hill just got steeper. Ferrum will have to win out, and Averett will have to lose twice. Another loss by Ferrum, and it will be next to impossible. If there is a silver lining, it is that the loss happened early in the season, and there is time to recover......but it will require the help of other teams to get Ferrum to a conference title.

Yesterday was a prime example of how important the special team phase of the game is. You must execute in all three phases consistently, and Ferrum was not able to do that as well as Averett yesterday.

On to next Saturday......see you at homecoming!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

GAMEDAY: Averett @ Ferrum

For the second week in a row, Ferrum will be at home, this week to host the Averett Cougars. Coming off of two big wins, Ferrum fans are looking for the Panthers to go 3-0. While its is something I am hoping for too, and believe it should happen, I am not guaranteeing this by any means. Averett is a very good team, despite their 0-2 record. In those two games, they lost by a total of seven points to two ODAC powers...Randolph Macon, and Hampden-Sydney. If there is a weakness, it may be stopping the pass. Their strengths are their running game, and stopping the run.
My feeling is that Ferrum should be able to limit their rushing attack, and will have good success through the air. The Ferrum running game may be hampered a bit, but look for there to be adjustments to stop the Ferrum passing attack, thus making the running game more effective.
In the end, I look for Ferrum to move to 3-0, but this could be a close game......personally, I am hoping for a blowout!

Go Panthers!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Week 3: Predictions

Last week I was 7-2, with an overall record of 13-5.

Averett @ Ferrum

Saturday is my birthday, and as much as I would like to be at W.B. Adams stadium, I will wait and travel to Ferrum for homecoming.
This is an important week as conference games begin, and for Ferrum, this is a huge game.  This is not a given win for the Panthers and the next three games will tell a lot about the Ferrum football program. While all of the conference games are important, these next three will pose stiff competition for Ferrum.
Let's not look too far down the road.....let's focus on Averett.

The Cougars have primarily a run based offense. In fact in their first two games, they have only attempted 26 passes. Their primary running back, Sean Bowman leads the conference in rushing with 309 yards on 50 carries. That is 25 carries per game. That is a lot of touches, and what that tells me is that Averett's offensive line must be pretty capable.

If that is the case, Ferrum's defense has to be up to the test. So far this season, Ferrum has only given up 225 rushing yards, and have not given up a rushing touchdown. This game could be a nail biter, and I think it will take something special like a great special team play, or a defensive touchdown to win this game. I will give a slight edge to Ferrum based on momentum, and home field advantage.
No matter what the score, a Ferrum win will be a great birthday present!

Ferrum wins 32-28

Here is the rest of this weeks schedule:

North Carolina Wesleyan @ Huntingdon

LaGrange @ Methodist

Maryville @ Emory and Henry

Brevard @ Greensboro

Go Panthers!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Panthers Move to 2-0
Conference play begins Saturday

On Saturday, before a very partisan home crowd, Ferrum hosted the Newport News Apprentice School Builders. Meeting for the first time since 1999, both teams came into the game with a week one win. While I believed that Ferrum should handle this game, it was hard to guage where the Builders were as a team. Yes they had an impressive win over Greensboro College in week 1, 39-7, but the question that came to mind was, "Is Newport News turning a corner?" On the surface, the score, and the stats from their first game could give you pause.
Ferrum came to play, and this was a total team effort that made the victory look very easy.
Zach Clifford started his first game at quarterback, and took full advantage of his opportunity. Clifford was 20 of 27 passing and set a single game Ferrum record with 347 yards. He had three touchdown passes in the effort, and ran for one. The defense was also very impressive, holding the Builders to just 6 points well into the fourth quarter.
On the receiving end of Clifford's strikes were several receivers, but no receiver had a better day than Johnny White. White had six receptions for 139 yards, and two touchdowns, the longest touchdown reception was 71 yards. The best reception of the day was a amazing one handed catch that gave Ferrum the ball at the three yard line. This play led to a Ferrum field goal, and a 23-0 second quarter lead. Incidentally, that play was submitted to ESPN as a potential top ten play.
With a fourth quarter lead of 40-6, Ferrum initiated some liberal substitutions, getting some non starters some much needed game time. The Builders added two late touchdowns, and Ferrum closed out the game with a 40-20 win.

So now, Ferrum is 2-0, and has a tough opponent in that of conference foe, the Averett Cougars. Averett is 0-2, but they have faced two very strong opponents in Hampden-Sydney and Randolph Macon. Against the Tigers, the Cougars lost by three points, and in there second game versus the Yellow Jackets, they lost by four. Averett is strong, but Ferrum needs to exact a little revenge on the Cougars. Yes we beat them last year in Danville, but the revenge needs to come for the loss the Panthers suffered in 2015. That game was the only game played at W.B.Adams stadium that year, and represented the first game played on Ferrum's new turf field. Ferrum will be facing a team that I said in an earlier post, could defeat any team in the conference. While it is not going to be an easy path to victory, Ferrum must be ready for the challenge. This represents a must win situation for Ferrum. A victory would put the momentum train at full speed going into homecoming.

Predictions will be posted later this week.

Go Panthers!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

GAMEDAY: Apprentice School @ Ferrum

With both teams coming off big week one wins, it is likely each team will bring a good deal of momentum to the game. Newport News Apprentice has not enjoyed a lot of success in recent years, but did post a .500 season last year. Some things to take note of.
The coaching staff is headed by interim head coach Mark Tomlin, and is aided by Offensive coordinator Zbig Kepa. Kepa was a respected assistant coach at William and Mary for almost 30 years. He has been around the game forever, and brings a wealth of information and knowledge to the sideline. Tomlin is well familiar with the Builders program. He played for the Apprentice School before graduating in 1986, and has had taught and coached in Prince George County Public Schools.
From what I can see, The Apprentice School has a far more difficult schedule this year as they have many ODAC match ups along with a couple of USA South teams mixed in. While I think this is still a team that will have a hard time repeating last years success, they are "building" a strong program.

As for Ferrum, I am looking for this to be a chance for them to pick up win number two, and continuing the tune up process for the conference schedule. I look for Ferrum's ground game to have a more dominant roll in the game today, and expect the Ferrum defense to present a lot of pressure on the Builders offense. This however is not a guaranteed win. To think so would be a mistake for Ferrum. The Panthers have a very good chance be a very special team. They have a very real chance to contend and win the USA South, and while this is not a conference game, a loss today would do serious damage to their momentum, and their overall outlook on a national scale.

Keys to the game today:

For Ferrum to win, they simply have to-

Control time of possession,and score often.

Create turnovers, and convert to points.

Control the line of scrimmage defensively.

Shut down the passing game through pressure on the quarterback

So why is there a concern? This can be a statement game. A chance for Ferrum to really show off their ability. I would love to see a 30+ point Panther win, I would love to see a second week where the Ferrum defense does not give up a touchdown, and I would love to see a touchdown from a punt or kickoff return by the Panthers.
What concerns me is that there is no recent history between these schools, and it would be quite easy to look at the struggles that the Builders have had over the last several years, and develop the feeling that this win will be automatic.....this would be a mistake. The Apprentice School has abilities, and is coming in, believing they can and will win. Here is what I know. Last week, Greensboro only had 6 first downs, and only 192 yards of total offense. The Pride only had 51 yards rushing. I am not sure that we can take a lot from that, but it is quite possible that the Builders defense is pretty good.

In the end, I think it is important for Ferrum to stay focused, follow the game plan and they should come up with their second win. I had earlier predicted that Ferrum will win 32-6. I will stick with that. I  solidly believe that Ferrum can make a statement as to how good they are, but in the end, it is not the score, it's the win........Take it to 'em Ferrum.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Week 2: Predictions

Last week, I was 6-3

Newport News Apprentice @ Ferrum

The memories of last Saturday's win are sweet, but it's time to look to week two. This week Ferrum comes home to host the Newport News Apprentice School Builders. Coming off a lopsided 39-7 win over Greensboro College, The Builders bring in a formidable ground game that accounted for 356 yards rushing. Running Back Brandon Jones (#4) appears to be their go to guy as he tallied 120 yards on 16 carries, scoring two touchdowns. As for the quarterback, the Builders used three different ones. I would expect Brenden O'Neil (#7), (8 of 13 for 144 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.) to be the starter.

So what should we expect Saturday? On the surface, the score of 39-7 may raise some eyebrows. While Ferrum and Newport News Apprentice enjoy a long football history, they have not played since Sept. of 1999. In that game, Ferrum won 22-0. While you can't draw any inferences from a game played 18 years ago, I am not sure that you can draw very many from the NN/Greensboro last week. Yes the Builders did put up solid offensive numbers, and held Greensboro to just 7 points, but I have to say.....Ferrum ain't no Greensboro, and The Builders ain't no Emory ad Henry.
Look for the Ferrum offense to see much more success, and seem much more in sync. I expect Zach Clifford to get the start, and continue his progression. Look for Brian Mann to have much better numbers, and look for the defense to shine again this week. There are no guarantees in life, but I think chances are good that Ferrum will finish the day 2-0.

Ferrum 32  NNAS 6

Guilford @ Methodist

After a 70- 0 pasting at the hands of FCS opponent Campbell University, the Monarchs return home to take on ODAC power Guilford.  I call them a power even though they are only predicted to finish 6th in their conference. Keep in mind, they defeated Huntingdon last week on the road 38-24. Why is that significant? Huntingdon is predicted to be the co-conference champion of the USA South. Statistically, this was a very close game.

Once again, I think Methodist will have an up hill climb, but it's a hill, not the mountain they faced last week. Look for this to be somewhat of a one sided affair, but I think there will be improvement for the Monarchs.....just not enough

Guilford 28
Methodist 16

Here are the rest of my week 2 predictions:

Hanover @ Maryville

Emory and Henry @ Brevard

Greensboro @ Gallaudet

Randolph Macon @ Averett

LaGrange @ Berry

Shenandoah @ North Carolina Wesleyan

Huntingdon @ Birmingham Southern

Monday, September 4, 2017


In a low scoring affair, Ferrum and Emory and Henry battled hard. Ferrum's offense, which is usually ground based, and features Brian Mann, among others, was frustrated most of the day. Mann did not have the yards per carry he grew accustomed to in his freshman year, but he did get Ferrum's first of two touchdowns on Saturday. It was not that Mann had a bad day, I think it;s more accurate to say that this day belonged to the defenses. This game was an in your face and hard hitting as any I've seen in a while. Both teams used at least two quarterbacks, and  multiple running backs, but the defenses ruled the day.
Zach Clifford, and Tyler English both looked good at quarterback for Ferrum, and Johnny White along with Nick Pearce, each had 4 receptions, but it was White's last catch that put Ferrum ahead for good.

With 1:41 left in the game, Emory and Henry had the ball, 1st and 10 with a two point lead, and Ferrum had no time outs. These circumstances left Ferrum in a pretty desperate position. Essentially, all Emory and Henry had to do was take a knee, and run the clock out, but they didn't.....they ran one more play and well.......we 96'd 'em.
On this play, the quarterback took the snap with about 1:20 left in the game, and he handed the ball off to the running back. The running back went off right tackle, but Montell Lee had other ideas. On this play, the "Alabama Wildman" knifed through the offensive line, and simply stripped the ball from the running backs arms, and took off toward the end zone. While he did not score, this one play set up the improbable win for the Panthers.
This was not  just any win..... Ferrum defeated the team that was picked to win the ODAC. And while there are things that Ferrum needs to work on, to be more effective as the season goes on, this win is huge. It's a first step for what lies ahead. I like what I see, and can't wait for the home opener against Newport News Apprentice School.

Go Panthers!

Friday, September 1, 2017

GAMEDAY: Ferrum @ Emory and Henry

And so begins the 2017 season, the second edition of the Crooked Road Classic, and my tenth season of writing this blog. In looking back to the earliest post, it was a recap of the 2008 Emory and Henry game played at Ferrum. Marcus Mayo, and Mike Vann each turned in a strong performance, but the Panthers came up on the short end of a 26-21 score.

Ten years later, Ferrum is again about to go toe to toe with the Wasps, and after the come from behind win that the Panthers engineered last year, look for Emory and Henry to seek serious revenge.

Ferrum has a solid group of starters. The offensive and defensive lines look very strong. Ferrum will have substantial talent at the running back position, and will likely be blessed with a talented receiving corp. Tyler English saw a fair amount of playing time at quarterback last year, and did not disappoint. I look for English to be developing his skills as he moves through the season, but I think he is quite capable. The quarterback corps is a very solid unit.

If there is anything that concerns me it is the defensive secondary. This unit has to improve significantly over last year. Look for this group to be getting stronger as the season goes on.

Overall I see this game as a potential barn burner. Possibly as good if not better than last years. Look for Ferrum to once again bring home the trophy for the Crooked Road Classic.