President Paul Trible leads Head Coach Matt Kelchner to a post-game tribute following the Captains’ 41-0 victory over Southern Virginia. Ben Leistensnider/The Captain’s Log

A hero’s farewell

President Paul Trible leads Head Coach Matt Kelchner to a post-game tribute following the Captains’ 41-0 victory over Southern Virginia. Ben Leistensnider/The Captain’s Log

President Paul Trible leads Head Coach Matt Kelchner to a post-game tribute following the Captains’ 41-0 victory over Southern Virginia. Ben Leistensnider/The Captain’s Log

After 16 years of CNU Football, Matt Kelchner went out the same way he coached for so many years: successful, passionate and full of class.

On Saturday, CNU dominated the Knights of Southern Virginia University in a 41-0 rout for what was the final game of Head Coach Matt Kelchner’s historic career.

The win was possibly the most well-rounded effort of the season, with major contributions from offense, defense and special teams.

When they had the ball, the Captains were efficient and explosive. They amassed almost 150 yards of rushing while quarterback K.J. Kearney threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.

CNU Football Head Coach Matt Kelchner holds back tears as he watches a tribute video featuring messages from people he influenced during his coaching career. One speaker was Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl. Ben Leistensnider/The Captain’s Log

CNU Football Head Coach Matt Kelchner holds back tears as he watches a tribute video featuring messages from people he influenced during his coaching career. One speaker was Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl. Ben Leistensnider/The Captain’s Log

Kearney played a clean game overall, throwing no interceptions and completing 72 percent of his passes.

The junior quarterback’s magnificent season saw him cement his status for next year as the top quarterback in the conference, as he lead the NJAC in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Taylor Loudon once again led all receivers with eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. With Saturday’s game, Loudon became the first receiver in school history to record two seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

The senior receiver dominated the NJAC, amassing 82 catches—33 more than any other conference player—and led the conference in receiving yards.

On defense, the Captains recorded another shutout as they held the triple-option Southern Virginia to less than 100 yards in the game and even added a touchdown. In the third quarter, defensive tackle Jayvon Temple intercepted an attempted screen pass.

After the impressive snag, Temple rumbled and charged into the end zone for a pick six to put the Captains up 35-0. Kyree Burton also had an impressive 40 yard punt return to set up the Captains offense nicely.

The win concludes a successful season for CNU football as the team finished 7-3. After winning their first four games, they disappointingly dropped three matches in the middle of the season. But Coach Kelchner was adamant that his team continue to fight and finish the season strong. This they did, winning their final two games to round out 2016.

The Captains finished ranking third in the conference total offense and second in total defense, the only team to finish in the top three for both categories.

The win was an appropriate send off for Matt Kelchner, who announced his retirement earlier in the season. As the man who started Christopher Newport football, Kelchner led his teams to an historic rate of success. Starting in 2001, his teams made the national playoff tournament their first four years, an unprecedented feat of coaching.

Last year he eclipsed 100 wins, becoming the third fastest coach in DIII history to do so. Throughout his CNU career, his only losing season came last year—the team’s first in a new and challenging conference.

Despite his wins and losses and performance on the field, Kelchner will be remembered for his impact on his players, his work in molding them into men, and his focus on academics and service.

For the past 16 years, Kelchner has been an exemplary figure of the CNU community and will continue to have a positive impact on the school as he takes on his new role of associate athletic director.