Jelani Scott | Sports Editor
HAMPTON, VA—After last weekend’s solid season opener, the Pirates looked poised to start their season 2-0 for the first time since 2011 against the Richmond Spiders on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Both teams went toe-to-toe but the Spiders managed to pull away in the fourth quarter and hold on after a series of huge penalty calls to defeat Hampton, 31-28.
The Pirates led through the first three quarters, but after Richmond cut Hampton’s 28-16 lead to five early in the fourth quarter, the complexion of the game began to change. Hampton’s first dive of the fourth lasted roughly two minutes before ending as a turnover on downs. Richmond proceeded to take advantage of this by scoring a touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion to give them the lead at the 10:58 mark.
Hampton would get the ball once more for a short drive before punting back to the Spiders with 8:53 remaining in the game. After pushing Richmond back to 2nd and 25 with less than 7 minutes remaining, three momentum swinging flags were thrown by the refs.
Two 5-yard penalties were called on Richmond that pushed them back as far as 3rd and 35 until an unsportsmanlike conduct call was made on a Hampton player that gave Richmond an automatic first down. The Spiders would remain in the driver’s seat until the finals seconds dwindled before a stunned crowd of 3,515.
Second-year head coach Connell Maynor’s squad showcased their growth once again on both sides of the ball. Quarterback David Watford added to his hot start by throwing 239 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. One of his passes went to redshirt junior Twarn Mixson, who also threw the first touchdown pass of the game to redshirt junior and Hampton native Rashawn Proctor.
Mixson was named BoxToRow National Player of the Week on Thursday after his four touchdown output from last week’s game. Hampton’s offense further showed their efficiency by going 8-of-15 on third down conversions, 1-of-3 on fourth down conversions and scoring all three times they were in the red zone.
Hampton’s defense left their mark on the game in a big way with senior defensive back Breon Key’s interception for a 35-yard run in the first two minutes of the game setting up Mixson’s pass. The defense also added two sacks and held the Spiders to only five completions on their 11 third down conversion attempts.
Despite an inclement weather announcement that delayed the game for approximately 20 minutes, as well as the rain that followed, Hampton Nation still supported their team. Their next opponent, however, will be a unique challenge that HU must get up for. It will be a beast the Pirates are all too familiar with when they take on the Bison of Howard University Friday night in the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic.
The biggest difference, though, is that the game will take place at the historic RFK Stadium for the first time since the 1990s and will be broadcasted on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. If the Pirates expect to improve to 2-1 and slay the Bison, they must make the necessary adjustments to ensure they earn this year’s bragging rights.