A gorgeous day, and a really nice sized crowd seemed like the recipe for a Panther win to open the season. This was not to be for Ferrum, as their best efforts left them just short in double overtime, 23-17.
This game however should not be looked at as a failure. It should be looked at as two really solid teams going toe to toe for four quarters without a winner being decided. This was a war, and both teams came to the game fully armed in hopes of defeating the other. In the end, The Wasps had a little more gas in their tank, and outlasted Ferrum.
Ferrum should take away a lot of positives from the game, but also can look back on the game film, and disect things that they can improve upon.
Rushing Game- This was strong. Led by QB Marcus Mayo, Ferrum out gained Emory and Henry on the ground. The Offensive line, having players short on experience, did a nice job holding blocks, and opening holes. This was a nice start to a facet of the Panthers game that will only get stronger.
Special Teams- Blocked Field Goal, Punt out of bounds on the 2, and a 47 yard field goal (This kick tied the school record for the longest field goal in Ferrum DIII history) to tie the game in regulation.
Pass Defense- While the Wasps gained 146 yards through the air, the Panthers looked much improved in this area. One interception, a broken up pass play, and overall much better coverage. Ferrum did not allow a passing touchdown.
Note of recognition to Cedric Hargrove (6) who ended the day with an interception, a fumble recovery, a tackle for a loss, and a sack. Also roecognition to Chris McCalla who led the defense with 7.5 tackles.
Not so Positives-
Special Teams- While the game tying 47 yard field goal was crucial, and a beautiful thing to watch, the 2 missed field goals were costly. The consistency in this area, will get better.
Passing Game-One interception of the offense early, and a dropped pass that would have resulted in a touchdown, were events that no doubt influenced the outcome. These were things that while painful today, will serve as teaching points that will lead to overall improvement. Mayo has an arm, and can send it. It is imperative that both the quarterback and intended receivers are in sync, and crisp routes are met with crisp passes. This too will improve. I think Ferrum can open up its passing game, and add a dimension that teams are not expecting. In turn, this will open up the running game.
There are not all that many negatives. Ferrum looked good, and Emory and Henry knew they had been in a battle. Mistakes here and there did influence the game, but again this year, the natural talent of the Wasps No. 7 Caleb Jennings showed through, as he rushed for over 200 yards....most of these were in the second half. He is a very fast back, that will cause every opponent problems. He is not going to be stopped for an entire game, just hopefully contained.
A look back at the keys to victory-
Must control time of possession.- Keep Caleb Jennings off of the field.
This was a very good effort- The second half time of possession was likely in favor of E&H, but over all, it was a minimal difference. Jennings was a difference maker.
All special teams scoring opportunities must be capitalized on.-
The special teams scoring opportunities results were not where they need to be, but the ability is there. This is an area that needs to improve, and will. Puschell is a strong kicker, and his skill may just require more reps.
Turnovers and penalties cannot happen. This team is too good to give them anything.
Too many penalty yards. 128 yards.
Defensive secondary must have at least one interception.Piscopo will throw the ball.
This was accomplished. Great Job. Secondary seemed much improved !!! OK, it was Dustin Beck, and not Piscopo...my mistake.
Do not give them any room on punt/kickoff returns. Jennings does this also, and can burn you.
Punt returns was a non issue- Covering kickoff returns were where some things can get better.
Get pressure on the QB for E&H. Their passing game will take what is given to them...do not give too much of a cushion.
Overall I think things looked much better in the secondary. The one glaring stat is that Emory and Henry gained 10 first downs through the air. There was one sack by the Ferrum defense. More pressure may have limited those first downs....hard to say.
Overall, I think this was an outstanding effort, and I see the Panthers as much further ahead, preparation wise than they were last year. I projected this team to be 4-6, but am feeling a lot better about the talent on the team. D3football.com, projected the Panthers to finish 1-9. NO WAY!!! This team is really good, and I think in the end can be a conference contender.Keep your heads up, and know that this was a great team effort. Take your upcoming week off seriously. Review the films, and get ready for Southern Virginia University. Take it one game at a time!