Ferrum College sophomore Alphonso Green (16) dives in vain in an effort to block a 28-yard field goal by Maryville (Tenn.) College’s Jonathan Sykes (18) with two seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s 22-17 USA South Athletic Conference football victory by the Scots over the Panthers at W.B. Adams Stadium. Sykes converted five field goals to tie a single-game Maryville record. He made kicks from 25, 28, 46, 34 and 35 yards. Maryville’s win, coupled with Christopher Newport University’s 30-29 loss to Methodist (N.C.) University, gives the Scots, the Panthers (7-3 overall) and the Captains a share of the conference championship all with 5-2 league records, but the Captains earn the league’s playoff berth. (Staff Photo by Steven Marsh)
Monday, November 12, 2012
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
FERRUM -- Jonathan Sykes kicked his way into Maryville (Tenn.) College's record book and booted 14 Ferrum College seniors into gridiron retirement Saturday at W.B. Adams Stadium.
Hours later, Sykes' accomplishment was magnified.
Sykes, a first-year senior, made five field goals, three of which he converted in the fourth quarter, to guide Maryville to a 22-17 USA South Athletic Conference football victory over the Panthers on Senior Day.
Sykes' five field goals -- his kicks converted 25, 28, 46, 34 and 35 yards -- are the most by a Maryville kicker in a single game since a 1974 contest against Emory & Henry College.
The Scots' win, coupled with Methodist's 30-29 upset of Christopher Newport University in Newport News Saturday enables Maryville, CNU and Ferrum each to claim a share of the conference championship.
But, based on head-to-head wins over both Ferrum and Maryville (5-2 in the USA South, 6-4 overall), CNU ((5-2 in the USA South, 6-4 overall earns the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs, which begins this weekend.
Methodist's win over the Captains is its third in a 12-game series and its first in Newport News. The Monarchs erased a 14-0 deficit en route to the win.
"A title is a title and we'll take anything at this point,' first-year Maryville head coach Mark Rader said after his team's victory, which was guaranteed two hours before the CNU Methodist game kicked off.
"The bottom line is we're going to go (home) on that bus tonight and we have a chance to watch versus we're going to go on that bus tonight and (the CNU game) doesn't matter (to us),' Rader said.
"We have a chance and that's all we wanted was a chance. We didn't handle our business against LaGrange or CNU and that's on us, but, at the same time, our kids fought and we do have an outside chance. And, we've become the biggest Methodist fans in the country,' Rader said. "Methodist is one of the most talented teams in our conference.'
Had Ferrum won, the Panthers would have captured the league title outright and advanced to postseason play for the first time since 2005.
Instead, Ferrum's loss ends a four-game winning streak by the Panthers (5-2 in the USA South, 7-3 overall).
Ferrum is 1-8 in its last nine Senior Day games with the victory coming a year ago over league foe Averett University.
"I'm going to remember this for a long time,' said defensive back Marco McNeal, one of 14 Ferrum seniors who played his last game. "A CNU loss would bring down (the blow) a little bit, but still the fact that we lost our last home game hurts.
The Panthers have lost to USA South rivals, North Carolina Wesleyan College, CNU, Averett and Maryville during that nine-game stretch.
Two years ago the Scots won here on Senior Day in what also was Dave Davis' final game as Ferrum's sideline boss.
Had Ferrum won, the Panthers' 8-2 finish would have been its best since their nine-win campaign in 2005. That season ended with a Senior Day loss and a first-round defeat in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
"I hate it for our seniors,' second-year Panthers sideline boss David Harper said of the result.
Maryville, which squared an eight-game series with Ferrum with the triumph, accumulated 485 yards of offense and held advantages in plays from scrimmage (79-57) and time of possession (32:23 to 27:37).
Sykes' field goals completed scoring drive of 12 plays 67 yards, 9 plays 71 yards, 5 plays 13 yards, 9 plays 67 yards and 7 plays 46 yards.
For the game, Sykes was 5 of 6 -- he missed from 26 yards in the second quarter with the scored tied at 10.
"(Jonathan) is a guy who wasn't even starting at the first part of the year, but he just kept working and working...He's done an outstanding job...He's a hard worker. He come to work every day and he's gotten so much better,' Rader said. "Anything inside 40 yards is in his comfort zone and then he can mess with the 45 yarders.'
The Scots broke that stalemate when Sykes made his 28-yarder with two seconds left in the first half. That started a run of 12 unanswered points by Maryville, a run that ended when Ferrum senior Derrick West caught a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tim Reynolds with 1:42 left.
Reynolds, who ran for a 68-yard touchdown on Ferrum's second play from scrimmage to give the Panthers their lone lead, rushed for a team-best 112 yards and was 14 of 24 passing for 145 yards.
A sophomore and a first-year starter behind center, Reynolds finished the season with a team-best 876 yards rushing and 1,683 yards passing. His TD run was his 15th rushing score of the season. He accounted for 2,559 yards of offense.
"Early in the game, it was tough for us, and then Tim hit that long run for us on our second play. After that, I felt that our offense was pressing -- that we had to score on every play,' Harper said.
Ferrum senior kicker Scott Puschell made a 29-yarder in the first quarter, but missed from 45 yards in the second stanza and failed on a 42-yard try in the third period with the count 13-10.
"All of (Scott's kicks) had plenty of distance,' Harper said.
Maryville's Travis Felder gained a game-best 211 yards rushing on 24 carries and that ranks as one of the best single-game rushing performances by a Scots running back. He averaged 8.8 yards a carry and didn't lose a yard.
Quarterback Eric Sisson was 15 of 31 passing for 175 yards. He threw a nine-yard scoring strike to Jared Miller in the second quarter and was intercepted once -- by Ferrum senior Raymond Hines.
Sisson was sacked four times, twice by Lynwood Pickett and once each by Jatavious Adams and DeRon Dillard.
"Maryville played really good on defense and high-execution on offense. What happened is that they out-executed us. That's what hurts,' Harper said.
"The quarterback position and that running back (Felder) are the ones who scared me. That running back was a ball of muscle...and he hit the hole and didn't blink,' Harper said.
Ferrum's defense was on the field for almost 60 percent of the game. In the first half, Maryville ran 25 more plays from scrimmage (48 to 23) than the Panthers.
Maryville, a team comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores, employs an up-tempo style attack, one which is designed to keep opposing defenses on the field.
"Our goal is 50...If you can piggy-back another 50 in the second half, you have made a defense play another quarter, quarter-and-a-half or two quarters than what they're used to,' Rader said.
"We game-planned for what (Maryville) was going to do,' said McNeal, who registered a team-best 12 tackles for the Panthers. "...I felt like I was on the field for a long time and I play on special teams too. On defense, we were not getting the three-and-outs that we usually get. They were making big plays and first downs (Maryville tallied 27 to Ferrum's 16). We did hold them to field goals.
"I thought our defense was always out there,' Harper said. "We just couldn't get off the field.
"Maryville executed very, very well and we didn't make some plays when he had opportunities to do so. In games like this, you have to execute and make plays when they're there and we had some that were there. "It just didn't seem like we made a play,' Harper said.
USA SOUTH ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
TEAM USA-S OVERALL
xFerrum 5-2 7-3
xyChristopher Newport 5-2 6-4
xMaryville 5-2 6-4
Methodist 4-3 5-5
Greensboro 3-4 5-5
LaGrange 3-4 3-7
North Carolina Wesleyan 2-5 3-7
Averett 1-6 1-9
Maryville 22, Ferrum 17
Methodist 30, Christopher Newport 29
North Carolina Wesleyan 32, Averett 21
Greensboro 31, LaGrange 27
x -- claims a share of conference championship
y -- receives league's automatic playoff berth
2001: Christopher Newport, Ferrum
2002: Christopher Newport, Ferrum
2003: Shenandoah, Christopher Newport
2004: Shenandoah, Christopher Newport
2005: Ferrum, Methodist
2006: Averett, Christopher Newport
2007: N.C. Wesleyan
2008: Christopher Newport
2009: N.C. Wesleyan
2010: Christopher Newport, N.C. Wesleyan
2011: Christopher Newport
2012: Ferrum, Christopher Newport, Maryville
NCAA PLAYOFF TEAMS
2001: Christopher Newport
2002: Christopher Newport
2003: Christopher Newport
2004: Shenandoah, Christopher Newport
2006: Christopher Newport
2007: North Carolina Wesleyan
2008: Christopher Newport
2009: North Carolina Wesleyan
2010: Christopher Newport
2011: Christopher Newport
2012: Christopher Newport
PLAYOFF RECORD (USA South years only): Christopher Newport 2-8, Shenandoah 0-1, Ferrum 0-1, North Carolina Wesleyan 1-2. Overall, the USA South's playoff record is 3-11.