Saturday will mark the tenth time Ferrum will meet Christopher Newport on the gridiron. CNU leads the series 8-1, and that one Panther win was at Ferrum in 2003. Six straight seasons, Ferrum has lost to the Captains. Some games were close, and others were old fashioned wallopings. In the last six meetings, I have been to 3 of them. 2005, 2006, and 2008. Ferrum will have some players on the team that were at the 2008 game. What a game it was. After trailing 10-7 at the half, Ferrum would tie it in the third quarter. With 6:43 left, the CNU placekicker, Jay Graham hit a 30 yard field goal, to give the Captains the winning margin, 13-10. This was a barn burner, played on a very muddy field. There had been rain that morning, and even at times during the game. It was a hard fought battle, and Ferrum gave the Captains a game...unlike the 2005, and 2006 seasons where the combined point totals were 99-14. Last season, Ferrum hosted the Captains and were tied at halftime 14-14. The second half was not as kind to Ferrum and CNU was able to put up 14 more points in the second half, while Ferrum was held scoreless. Final CNU 28 Ferrum14.
This year, both teams are in a duel for conference championship, and the playoffs, and a loss Saturday would be difficult for either team to overcome. In the beginning of the season , Averett was selected by the coaches as the pre-season favorite to win the conference, and they are still in the hunt. I selected North Carolina Wesleyan as the favorite to win the USA South, and they too are still in it. With all these teams at 3-1 in the conference, every game is critical, and for Ferrum the fact that this is homecoming for the Captains does not make their task any easier.
Ferrum must execute a near perfect game Saturday to stay in contention, but this is not the same dominant CNU team that we are used to seeing. They lost this season to Frostburg State, and the Bobcats are not a powerhouse by any means. In fact, to date, CNU has been the only team they have beaten.
So what does Ferrum have to do to stay in the hunt for the conference crown....win Saturday. In order to do this, they need to take advantage of every opportunity , and create their own opportunities. The have to execute in all phases of the game, and defend tirelessly against the pass. They must get to the CNU quarterback, and disrupt his rhythm. They have to execute on special teams, and cannot give CNU anything. Penalties must be few, and turnovers cannot happen. win and you are still in the hunt...lose, and you are a long shot at best that will have to rely on a lot of help to win the conference. You cannot focus on anything but CNU. Let's get back in the win column against these guys.