By Stephen Boyle - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Sixteen points or less: that's Shenandoah University's goal for points allowed this season.
On Saturday. the Hornets accomplished the goal, but it wasn't enough to defeat Ferrum. SU's offense couldn't get going in a 14-7 loss at Sprint Field at Shentel Stadium.
"I felt like I could've performed better, I think a lot of us feel like that," said senior quarterback Shawn Lloyd. "If we would've just executed our game plan we would've come up with a win. We didn't lose to Ferrum, we beat ourselves."
Lloyd and the offense struggled to move the ball, but Shenandoah's defense looked strong. Holding the Panthers' offense to zero points in the first half. Ferrum head coach Dave Harper admitted his team was a little discouraged at halftime. Harper said he told his team "enjoy this, this is a good football game" at halftime.
In the second half, Ferrum finally found the scoreboard after a big third-down play. On third-and-11 from the SU 32, sophomore quarterback Tim Reynolds was forced out of the pocket. Senior wideout Derrick West didn't give up on the play, and then made a leaping catch over Shenandoah's Brandon Martin at the 2-yard line.
"We typically don't throw the ball, but I could put together a highlight video of his career," Harper said. "He makes catches like that every day."
Two plays later, B.J. Jennings punched in a 1-yard touchdown to give Ferrum a 7-0 lead.
West made another big catch on third down in the third quarter. This one was a designed play in the end zone. West ran a fade route in single coverage and went up and got the ball, again beating Martin.
"It was a good play on his part," Martin said. "I had a hand on it, but he just made a better play than I did."
West said the win over Shenandoah was a team effort, but he was all smiles while talking about his touchdown catch.
"The ball was a little high, but we always talk about getting the ball at the highest point," he said.
Shenandoah fought back in the fourth quarter. After a three-and-out, punter Cory Gay booted a ball 65-yards to tie a school record. The punt took the ball from the SU 15-yard line to the Ferrum 20. The field position switch was huge, especially because B.J. Jennings fumbled on a 10-yard run on the very next play. Junior middle linebacker Josh Rogers forced the fumble and defensive lineman Preston Funk made the recovery.
The turnover led to a 2-yard Andrew Smith touchdown run, but that was as close as Shenandoah would get to Ferrum.
"Overall, I'm proud of my defense," Rogers said. "I'm proud of the whole team really. We've got a lot of work to do, but we're better than we thought we were."
Shenandoah defensive coordinator Brock McCullough, who has been running the team's day-to-day operations while head coach Paul Barnes recovers from back surgery, was also pleased that his team made correctable mistakes.
"There's eight more ball games to go and our guys our going to keep playing hard," he said.