JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the eighth part in an 11-part series breaking down all of Carson-Newman football's opponents for the 2018 season. This breakdown skims the surface on the Virgina-Lynchburg Dragons.
The Eagles' first ever meeting with VUL is like matching wits with a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
For a couple years, the Dragons were persona non grata according to the NCAA and couldn't be listed as a countable opponent because of a lack of accreditation. VUL was lumped in with the College of the Faiths and University of God's Chosen of the world.
To the Dragons credit, they rectified the situation and are now a countable opponent. They will go down as a game on Carson-Newman's record instead of serving as an exhibition. VUL made this change last year and became a member of the NCCAA, the National Christian College Athletic Association.
There's not much information out there on the Dragons, but here's what we do know. Bobby Rome, a former UNC fullback, is in his first-year as the Dragons' head coach. He is VUL's fifth head coach since 2011, when the football program was restarted.
Rome most recently was head coach of the UNC club football program. Prior to that, he was the head coach of Far Eastern Federal University in Russia, where he started the football program.
He graduated from UNC in 2009 and was in and out of the NFL and played in the now-shuttered United Football League, as well as the Federation of American Football of Russia league.
Rome has his work cut out for him. He takes over a team that went 0-8 last season and was outscored 414-43.
The NCCAA is comprised of 14 schools across classifications. VUL ranked last in the organization last year in scoring margin, scoring offense and scoring defense. The average score to a VUL football game last year was 51.7-5.3 in favor of the Dragons' foes.
The Dragons also ranked last in total offense and rush offense, gaining 138.4 and 47.4 yards per game, respectively. The pass offense was second from the bottom, edging out Cincinnati Christian by three yards. VUL passed for 91 yards per game, CCU averaged 88 through the air.
Defensively, VUL faired about as well as a team that gave up nearly 52 points per game. The Dragons allowed 438 yards of total offense per game and had a rush defense that ranked in the top half of the organization.
However, VUL surrendered 285 yards per game through the air.
In terms of individuals. Punter Christopher Vas got some run last year, punting an average of eight times per game for 37.2 yards a boot, the third best average in NCCAA. He had a 60-yard kick, the fourth longest punt of the year.
Quarterback Thomas Jones was 52-for-129 through the air with four picks. He had 484 yards passing.
Thomas Newman was one of the NCCAA's better kickoff return men, bringing two back for touchdowns with a NCCAA-best 27 yards per return.
Willie Holloway led the Dragons defense with 40 tackles, including eight for loss.
The Better Know The Opponent previews continue with week nine foe Tusculum Tuesday.