Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reviewing the Season

In looking back at this past season, I saw a team that really matured as time went on. Hampered right out of the gate by key players not returning, Ferrum found themselves a younger, and more inexperienced team than anyone would have anticipated.

On the road at Emory and Henry, Ferrum found out quickly how important stopping the rush would be. The Wasps Caleb Jennings ran for 163 yards and one touchdown, en route to a 24-21 win over the Panthers. No single running back the rest of the season would gain that many yards against the Panthers.

The following week was an open date for Ferrum, which gave them time to get ready for Bridgewater. Always a tough game, the extra week to prepare must have helped as Ferrum went on to win in overtime, 37-34. A 28 yard Scott Puschell field goal gave Ferrum it's first win of the season.

In week four, Ferrum was on the road to Buena Vista to take on the Knights of Southern Virginia University. In very muddy conditions, Ferrum outlasted the Knights in a see-saw battle. Matt Dobson ran for a 4 yard score with 3:31 remaining to seal the win.

In the conference opener, Ferrum took on North Carolina Wesleyan in a game that had huge implications in the conference standings, even though this was the first conference game of the year. After the first quarter ended in a 7-7 tie, the Bishops reeled off 21 second quarter points, and took a 28-7 lead into halftime. Ferrum would mount a comeback, and outscored the Bishops 17-6 in the second half, but it was not enough as Ferrum fell 34-24.

Next for Ferrum were the Methodist Monarchs. Methodist came to Ferrum with a 1-3 record, and after one half it appeared that a second Methodist win would be impossible. After an intermission that saw Ferrum leading 28-7, Methodist kicked off only to see the Panthers mount another drive that would result in a touchdown, increasing their lead to 35-7.
The probability of a win for Methodist seemed very unlikely to everyone....except Methodist. With no more scoring in the third quarter, Methodist put on a passing clinic and launched a furious comeback. They came up just short, as Ferrum prevailed 49-35.

The following week, Greensboro came to W.B. Adams, and must have taken a page out of the Methodist notebook. After trailing 17-0, Greensboro passed for 4 touchdowns to defeat the Panthers 27-24. This was only the second time that Greensboro had ever defeated Ferrum.

Next Ferrum traveled to Winchester to take on the Shenandoah Hornets. This proved to be a tough game as Ferrum and Shenandoah went toe to toe. At the end of the first half, Ferrum trailed 13-9. Two Dennis Hardy interceptions helped keep the Hornets off of the board in the second half while Ferrum was able to add 10 fourth quarter points to secure the win.

Halloween saw the Captains of Christopher Newport come to Ferrum, and this seemed to me like the year Ferrum may end the drought against CNU. After a hard fought first half, both teams left the field in a 14-14 stalemate. While Ferrum controlled the time of possession in the first half, just the opposite was true in the second stanza. Between Tunde Ogun's powerful running, and the strong CNU defense, Ferrum was held scoreless in the second half, and CNU added two Ogun touchdowns to gain a 28-14 win over Ferrum.

Averett would provide the competition on Senior Day, and the two teams did not disappoint. This was a slug fest. After a scoreless first quarter, Ferrum scored on a Matt Dobson 14 yard run to put the Panthers ahead at halftime 7-0. In the third quarter, Averett held Ferrum scoreless, and added 14 points of their own to take a 14-7 lead into the final period. In the last quarter, Ferrum's defense again held the Cougars scorless, and the offense added 7 points to send the game into overtime.
It would take three overtimes to decide it, and Averett eventually came out on top 34-28. Matt Dobson had a great game as he ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

The season would end at Maryville. The Scots were just coming off of their first ever win over Christopher Newport and were sure to be fired up for their Senior Day.
Ferrum took control of this game as two Thomas Porter touchdowns in the second quarter gave the Panthers a 14-0 halftime lead. With neither team scoring in the third quarter, Ferrum's lead was cut to 14-7 early in the fourth on an 8 yard touchdown pass for Maryville. On the ensuing kickoff, Mike Vann returned the ball 61 yards, and on the next play, Makaya Jackson took the ball 31 yards for a touchdown to again give the Panthers a 14 point lead, 21-7. Maryville would score one more touchdown, making the final Ferrum 21 Maryville 14.

And so the Panthers ended the season 5-5 but if it were not for just a few plays here and there, Ferrum could have easily been 8-2. The Emory and Henry game, the Greensboro game, and the Averett game were all ones that could have been won. Looking back now, I see a team that grew and matured by leaps and bounds. They did not have the depth or experience that was expected at the beginning of the season, but they showed that they were still a talented team that would play hard to the whistle.
Ferrum will lose some strong players to graduation, but it is quite likely that the recruiting that has been done and that will be done will keep the Panthers competitive in 2010.

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