Freshmen Stars Stand Out In Comeback Win

Courtesy of Nia Pettiford

Junior KwaJay Witcher (13) makes a play on defense to halt the offense of the Emory and Henry

By Joey Pride

In college sports, it is becoming increasingly difficult to lead a team as a freshman. Brian Mann and Billy Higgins defied the odds in their first collegiate game by earning USA South Athletic Conference honors over the weekend for their performances in Ferrum’s 39-38 win over Emory & Henry in the first annual Crooked Road Classic. Mann, a running back, earned the Offensive Rookie of the Week award and Higgins, a linebacker, won Defensive Rookie of the Week. Brian Mann rushed for 167 yards on 28 carries, scored two touchdowns, managed 103 yards on three kickoff returns, and scored on a 2-point attempt. Higgins led Ferrum in tackles with nine, six of which were unassisted, and also broke up one pass.

Q: How special was it to win individual honors in such an important game for the team?

(Mann) Winning my first college game was something I’ll never forget, without a doubt, and the individual award was nice, but at the end of the day, as long as the team gets the W, that’s all that matter.

(Higgins) It was great, and one of the most fun games I’ve ever played in. I really appreciate the award, but I need to keep working so that I can achieve more.

Q: What kind of confidence does this weekend give you going into the rest of the season?

(Mann) It is definitely a confidence boost. It makes me want to work harder, for sure, but all credit goes to the offensive line. If it wasn’t for the holes they were giving me up front, then none of this could have happened.

(Higgins) It made me really happy but it makes me hungrier, because one is not enough for me. It makes me want to work towards winner Rookie of the Year, and I hope we can get us a ring, too.

Q: What are some of your goals for the season?

(Mann) The way the offensive side looks at it, we just look toward executing the next play. Ultimately, the main goal is for everyone to execute their job to the best of their abilities. Of course, we want to win as many games as we can, and that’s the ultimate goal.

(Higgins) We want to run every play at full speed, show 100% energy on every play, be more physical than the opposition, and play with emotion and have fun, no matter what.

Q: How do you feel going into the Shenandoah game this Saturday?

(Mann) I’m definitely confident in our team, but Shenandoah is a good football team, and we just need to come out here and practice as hard as we can. (Higgins) I feel that if we play as one unit, we can definitely come out with a win after this game. We just have to take it seriously and take it one play at a time.

Q: What are your expectations come the end of the season? I just want us to the best team we can, that’s basically the ultimate goal. We would love to win every game, but at the end of the day, we want our hard work to culminate in us being the best team possible.

(Higgins) I feel like we did pretty good on Saturday, but there is always room for improvement. At the end of the season, I want us to be fighting for a conference championship and even a national championship.

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