How close was the battle for the Virginia Union’s starting quarterback job?
Jahkari Scholarship Y christian rodriguez they competed so fiercely for the spot that the competition lasted all through fall camp. In fact, the Panthers’ coaching staff didn’t officially declare the starter until earlier this week, just a couple days before the season opener.
It was a difficult decision, coach. alvin parker said. But Grant, in the end, made just a few more plays in VUU practices to break away.
“It meant a lot,” Grant said of winning the spot. But I can give credit [Reid] to that too, because it pushed me to be the best player I can be”.
And so it was Grant who led the Panthers’ offense in his debut Thursday at Hovey Field against Virginia University of Lynchburg, over Reid, his roommate and friend.
Their efforts were combined with a voracious defensive display, and VUU battled their way to a 77-0 victory over VUL, in front of 4,760.
“Most importantly, we wanted a lot of guys to have a chance to play [Thursday night]Parker said. “And I think we did. I think we got to three and four. But we knew during camp that we had a fair amount of depth. And we knew that no matter who we put in, we can get some results.
“So we were glad to see that.”
The Panthers (1-0) had 487 yards of total offense. They held the Dragons (0-1), members of the National Christian College Athletic Association, to 203 total yards.
The playmaking ability within the Panthers’ offense runs deep. Grant, who started his career at Rhode Island, showed off his arm, especially when he hit Keyon Dickens (JR Tucker) up for a 51-yard gain that set up Byers’ first touchdown run. Byers showed off his agile quickness and the strength of him: A second-quarter touchdown catch he had came after he overcame a tackle attempt right after the catch. Jiles showed off his athletic ability at 6-3, getting past a VUL defender to add to his yardage after the catch for a 29-yard gain early in the second quarter.
And the list could go on.
“We have too much depth for anyone to compete with us,” said Byers, who also said he was playing with passion after his sister’s death on Sunday. His funeral was Thursday.
Reid, who began his career at Charleston Southern, replaced Grant in the third quarter and had his own 5-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Key Jr. (Westside), early in the fourth quarter.
VUU also had three special teams touchdowns: a blocked field goal returned 70 yards per ephraim moore to close the first part, a Larry Hackey 70-yard kickoff return to open the second half and a blocked punt that fell into the end zone by RJ Rountree almost midway through the third quarter.
On defense, the Panthers played with swarming intensity, producing eight sacks in all. On the defensive charge harmoniesa CIAA preseason selection, he was involved in 1.5 sacks and led VUU with six total tackles.
“I really appreciated how they didn’t give up,” Grant said of the defense. “Like they’re just gas, no brakes, the whole game.”
Even after a record shutout like Thursday’s, Parker walked away feeling the Panthers have a few things to work on, namely penalties, of which VUU had nine for a 104-yard loss.
That’s even more pertinent considering what follows as well. The Panthers travel to take on Valdosta State on September 10, the team ranked No. 2 in D2Football.com’s preseason poll and last season’s national runner-up.
But, after Thursday’s statement, next Saturday is shaping up to be a good test for a VUU team that is brimming with talent.
“We’re excited to go out there and take on the challenge,” Grant said. “We just have to get better every day and go in there and just play our game.”