WILMINGTON — Unable to land a knockout punch late in the first half, Wilmington College lost its home opener 41-34 in overtime to Southern Virginia Saturday at Townsend Field.
“This is one we needed to have going in to league play,” WC head coach Bryan Moore said. “We’ll have to coach our way out of it. We preach this all week. We didn’t do a very good job of execution.”
Wilmington never trailed until Southern Virginia scored in overtime.
The Quakers overtime possession had a big nine yard pass from Derek Larimer to Lathan Jones for a first down at the 15. Later, a Southern Virginia pass interference penalty gave Wilmington the ball at the 3, first and goal.
But a negative rush and three incomplete passes ended the game with the Quakers on the short end of the score.
Wilmington had 472 yards offense, 233 in the first half and 239 in the second half.
Southern Virginia had 424 yards of offense, but 271 came in the second half.
Larimer was 36-58 passing for 366 yards and a pair of scores. He completed passes to 11 players. Itika Wynn caught six passes for 98 yards while Dallas Rawlings caught six, including two for touchdowns.
The Quakers played a portion of the game without star linebacker Tavion Bryant who left the game with an injury. He made an impact play on the very first snap from scrimmage. When he left for good in the third period, the Knights began to roll.
“He left in the third quarter but was hobbling at the end of the first quarter,” Moore said of Bryant, the All-America linebacker. “He got kicked. That was a big emotional thing for us … the heart of our defense. They (Southern Virginia) felt it too.”
The Quakers defense set the tone early as Bryant and Austin Aiello made negative yardage plays on the opening drive. Aiello’s tackle for loss was for negative 18 yards back to the 1.
The offense sputtered on the ensuing drive but benefited from a penalty on the Knights on third down. With the drive still alive, WC cashed in when Larimer, making his first collegiate start at quarterback, hit Dallas Rawlings from 4 yards out. Gabe Dolen’s extra point kick made it 7-0.
After the defense again stymied the visitors offense, the Quakers got back in the groove with a short passing game, mixed in with a few solid runs. Ben Hobbs finished things off with a 3 yard touchdown run. Dolen added the point after and it was 14-0.
The way things were going it seemed like a blowout was in the making.
But Southern Virginia scored early in the second quarter, utilizing pass plays to the sidelines to move the ball. Davis Pinkston to Jake Schenk for 33 yards cut the WC lead to 14-6.
Wilmington’s offense chugged along from there. Two Dolen field goals made it 20-6 late in the half. Two touchdowns instead would have made it 28-6.
“The two field goals were great football, we took the points when they were there but if that’s 14 points (instead of 6) when the momentum was already on our side they probably couldn’t get out of that funk. The field goals were an emotional win for them.”
Again, the Knights passing game made good when WC wasn’t able to pressure Pinkston. He hooked up with a wide open Chase Wester with 68 seconds to go in the half. WC’s lead was down to 20-13.
To make matters worse, the Quakers fumbled the ball on the kickoff and SVU took over at the WC 19. But Quentin Davis came up with an interception on the first play from scrimmage to allow the Quakers to maintain their lead.
A gutsy fourth down conversion seemed to put the Quakers in control in the third period. On a fourth and three play, Larimer dumped a short pass to Rawlings who broke a tackle and then charged his way to the end zone. Gabe Dolen’s extra point made it 27-13.
A blocked WC punt was returned for a touchdown to begin the SV rally. Minutes later Pinkston tossed his third TD pass of the day to bring the Knights within 27-26.
The teams traded fourth quarter scores but Southern Virginia managed a two-point conversion to send the game to overtime.
September 4, 2021
Southern Virginia 41 Wilmington 34
WC: Dallas Rawlings 4 yard pass from Derek Larimer. Gabe Dolen PAT, 10:54
WC: Ben Hobbs 3 yard run, Gabe Dolen PAT, 3:21.
SV: Pinkston 33 yard pass from Pinkston. PAT blocked, 14:05
WC: Gabe Dolen 21 yard field goal, 10:10
WC: Gabe Dolen 29 yard field goal, 2:52
SV: C. Wester 52 yard pass from Pinkston. Bass PAT, 1:08
WC: Gabe Rawlings 33 yard pass from Derek Larimer. Gabe Dolen PAT, 6:57
SV: T. Wester 5 yard punt block return. Pass failed, 4:16
SV: Francois 6 yard pass from Pinkston. Bass PAT, 1:18
WC: Ben Hobbs 1 yard run. Gabe Dolen PAT, 10:55.
SV: Wood 1 yard run. Pinkston run, 6:24
SV: Nelson 1 yard run. Bass PAT
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports