By Jim O'Hara and James Vallone
ROME -- On Monday, the Shorter Hawks football program got back to work. The old saying of "We will labor on Labor Day" held true. Head coach Phil Jones and his staff took a final view of the historic 31-20 victory over Division I FCS opponent Campbell University before turning their attention to this week opponent, the Newberry College Wolves.
"It was a great victory for us, there's no question about that," Jones remarked about the huge win. "You're always thankful to the Lord when we have a good day. Our players wouldn't be denied. We made some mistakes, but they kept playing hard and in the fourth quarter they took over. The kids wanted it so bad."
The Hawks were able to roll up 454 yards of total offense, with a balance of 263 rushing and 191 in the air. "When you can do that, you win games," Jones said. "We surprised them from the standpoint of being able to throw the ball and we know that you have to be balanced (offensively) to some extent to be successful."
The defense was key to the momentum as they forced five fumbles, and were able to recover all five; including one in the fourth quarter that helped with the final momentum swing. Jones attributes the one-sided turnover advantage to a ball-stripping drill first-year defensive coordinator Nathan Burton has his unit do during practice, but took special note of what a combined effort the Hawks' defense turned in.
Now the Hawks turn their attention to this week's opponent. Newberry was able to start their 2012 season with a 46-20 victory against Elizabeth City State; a game that saw a 37-7 margin to start the fourth quarter almost disappear. Newberry rushed for 238 yards on the game on 42 carries (5.7 yards/rush) and were able to add 118 yards of passing on six completions, with two touchdowns and one interception. The Wolves did a good job of ball protection as the interception marked the only turnover in the first game of the season. Newberry showed the ability to be aggressive on defense, totaling three sacks for the game for a loss of 17 yards.
A possible vulnerability was the total yardage the defense gave up in the game to ECSU. Newberry's defense saw 195 rushing yards and 274 more in the air get totaled. This balance is one the Hawks coaching staff has noticed as a way to continue the hot start to the season and look to move to a second win for 2012.
Fans unable to travel to South Carolina on Saturday can listen to all the action by tuning into 95.7 WATG-FM The Ridge or by accessing the live webcast link available on the Shorter Athletics homepage. Coverage begins at 5 pm with "Hawk Talk" and continues with "The Phil Jones Show" at 5:30 pm. The pregame show with Jim Bojo begins at 6 pm.