This was a game played amidst many celebrations and memories. Alumni returning to campus on a beautiful fall day, some possibly coming back for the first time in years were able to see the many changes that have taken place on the campus. Some there to reconnect with old friends, or celebrate the Hall of Fame inductions. Many came to witness the groundbreaking of the Hank Norton Athletic Center. Among all of the celebrations was the silent tribute to the seven former Panther football players, and one coach who tragically perished in the Marshall University plane crash now forty years ago. Small green ribbons were passed out to many of those in attendance, and the Panther cheerleaders wore green ribbons in their hair to honor those lost. There was also the crowning of the homecoming King and Queen. All of these things were taking place Saturday, in addition to the game itself, and what a game it was.
Ferrum, who was winless going into the game, hosted the defending conference champion North Carolina Wesleyan in what would not only be Homecoming, but would mark the start of conference play. While it is hard to cover every point of the game, there were some things that really stuck out. Ferrum's defense really looked pretty solid through the first three quarters. In the end however they spent too much time on the field, and wore down. The NC Wesleyan defensive line was a strong and very fast. This was tough to deal with. While Ferrum held it's own for most of the game, turnovers proved costly, and would cost them the chance to get a homecoming win. It was a tough game and unfortunately another loss for Ferrum, but in the end, I believe that the lessons learned from this game will help Ferrum as the year goes on.
By the Numbers:
There were elements of the game that were obviously one sided. North Carolina Wesleyan ran 21 more offensive plays than Ferrum, and averaged 2.1 yards more per offensive play. The Bishops had 231 rushing yards, and Ferrum had 50. The Bishops passing yards were 206, to 151 for Ferrum. and Ferrum suffered 6 fumbles, losing four of them.
While all of these numbers seem to give the impression that Ferrum could have been blown out, they were not. In fact, Ferrum was leading 14-10 in the fourth quarter.
Review of the keys to a Panther victory
Time of Possession- slight edge to Ferrum
Pressure the Quarterback. This was not an emphasis as Ferrum switched their defensive scheme, and went with a three down linemen look. They recorded one sack.
Utilize running game to its fullest-The Bishops prepared and defended the option attack well. The Ferrum rushing game was virtually shut down. (avg. of 1.2 yards per carry)
Touchdowns in the Red Zone. 1 of 3 chances
Pass Defense-The Panther pass defense looked more solid, possibly due to the 3 down lineman putting one more in coverage. None the less, there were 206 passing yards surrendered. They did not however give up any passing touchdowns.
The North Carolina Wesleyan defense was too much for the Panthers, and while I predicted a loss, in the end it was a much closer game on the field than the statistics will show. Ferrum again can take away positives and lessons from this game, and turn their attention to a road game at Methodist. Put what you have learned to use next week, and bring back a "W"