I have already re watched the game, and while this second viewing did not cause me anywhere near the stress, angst, and excitement that the live broadcast did, it did give me the chance to see some real turning points in the game.
What has to be the largest turning point was the reversal of a long punt return by Emory and Henry that took the ball all the way down to the Ferrum 3 yard line. A penalty on the play was described as holding before the kick. And while there was no player identified as the violator, this penalty would have meant Ferrum would have had to punt again. And while the great return by Santiago was wiped out, in the end, Emory and Henry would have still gotten the ball back. This entire scenario was too unsettling for the Wasps Coach Newsome, and he incurred an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This gave Ferrum the ball back, and was the start of the turning of the tide in the fourth quarter.
Two plays later, Harvey Taylor rolled to his right, and hit Chris Guy on a beautiful pass that gave Ferrum the ball at the Wasps 10 yard line. Two plays after that, Brian Mann ran untouched for a score. After the ensuing kickoff, the Ferrum defense held the Emory and Henry offense to a three and out. The next offensive series ended in a punt by Tyler Morgan who placed his punt perfectly and gave the Wasps the ball at their own 2 yard line.
For the second time in a row, the defense held, and Emory and Henry had to punt. Ferrum took over at the Wasps 38. On the first play, Taylor threw an interception, but it was called back after a pass interference penalty. The drive stalled, and Ferrum was faced with a fourth and 7. Ferrum went for it, and again Harvey Taylor placed a perfect pass in the hands of his receiver Johnny White, and the Panthers had it first and goal at the Wasps 4 yard line.
These to me were the key plays that led to one of the most exciting wins I have ever seen. The setting, the crowd, the back story of Grande vs. his former employer, the new field, everything.....it was just excellent. As much as players, coaches and fans want to revel in this great victory, its time to get ready for Shenandoah University.
Coming off a 43-6 thrashing of Gallaudet University, Shenandoah hosts Ferrum this Saturday. I have no substantial information about Gallaudet, but Shenandoah and Gallaudet have squared off for four years in a row, and Shenandoah has dominated the series, and leads during that time period, overall 3-1. Another item of interest is that Shenandoah is picked to finish seventh in the ODAC. What can be gleaned from this? Well Ferrum was also picked to finish seventh in the USA South, and has not beaten Shenandoah since 2012. These two facts really have no bearing on the game Saturday. Both teams are vastly different since 2012, and Saturday could be a real test for the Panthers......as well as a real test for the Hornets.
As I do every year, I go through the entire USA South schedule, both conference and non conference games and determine what I believe the order of finish will be, and publish this the day before the coaches poll comes out. This year, I had Ferrum winning one non conference game. It was against Shenandoah.......not Emory and Henry. Ferrum, I believe is on the upswing. They, in my opinion will get better, and I look for Ferrum to soon be 2-0.......Go Panthers!