Jelani Scott | Sports Editor
While every active team on campus played this past weekend, all eyes were focused on the Hampton Pirates football team and their “battle” against the Norfolk State Spartans.
Despite inclement weather putting a damper on the festivities and an early interception by Pirates QB David Watford, Hampton played well enough to have a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Unfortunately, they were unable to prevent the Spartans from scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half and ended up falling to NSU, 24-14, in front of a crowd of 6,549 at William “Dick” Price Stadium. The Pirates are now 2-2, 1-3 in MEAC this season and Norfolk State earns their first win (1-3) and are 1-0 in MEAC.
Watford, who threw three interceptions in the game, has been the cog that has kept the Pirates’ offensive machine turning this season and the Spartans, led by All-MEAC senior linebacker Deon King, did their best to stop him.
Watford completed 21 of his 44 pass attempts for 180 yards and had one touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Rayshad Riddick. Watford was sacked twice for a loss of 18 yards.
The ground game helped to keep the Pirates in the game with redshirt senior running back Christopher Dukes scoring one touchdown and adding 40 yards to the Pirates’ 171 total rushing yards.
“You got to credit those guys’ defense,” said head coach Connell Maynor in the post-game press conference, according to WAVY. “Defensive line was getting after our quarterback and making him force some high balls and some bad balls. They just out-played us in the second half.”
Hampton’s defense, which added two sacks of their own to the stat sheet, were unable to stop junior running back and comeback spark plug Gerard Johnson from rushing for a season-high 119 yards and one touchdown. Tyrone Ward led the Pirates defense with nine tackles, while Joshua Thorne added eight tackles – three for a loss.
Norfolk State opened the second half with a 14-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a field goal that cut the Pirates’ lead to 14-10. Hampton’s first possession of the half ended in a three-and-out, before the Spartans scored on the ensuing drive, taking a 17-14 lead with 3:16 left in the third quarter. Another Hampton interception followed, which Norfolk State turned into a drive that ended with a touchdown that put the Spartans up 24-14, effectively sealing the deal.
“You’ve got to take your hats off to those guys,” said Maynor, according to the Virginian-Pilot. “They went in at halftime and made some adjustments offensively and moved the ball down the field on us.”
The Pirates’ next game will be against the North Carolina A&T Aggies on October 3rd on their home turf at Armstrong Stadium for Parents’ Weekend.
In other news…
- The Sailing team won first place in the William & Mary Colony Cup that took place September 26th and 27th. This is Hampton’s fourth regatta of the year and their second time placing first. Congrats!
- The Women’s and Men’s Cross Country teams finished 6th and 7th in their respective divisions at the 32nd annual Greensboro Invitational in Greensboro, N.C. on September 26th. Senior Ce’aira Brown added to her career accolades by winning the women’s individual crown. Brown completed the 5K course in 18:36.60 to set the top time. It is her second career individual cross country title.
- The Volleyball team continued their quest for their first win of the season and were unable to earn one in two attempts. On September 25th, they played Morgan State and lost 3-1 (21-25, 29-27, 25-14, 25-19) and, two days later, they took Coppin State to the limit in a thriller but lost 3-2 (25-21, 25-23, 16-25, 32-34, 15-8). The defending MEAC champions have undergone several changes but, with the playing field being more balanced in MEAC play, the Lady Pirates will still look to win their third straight title.
In what originally scheduled to be a two-day tournament, the Men’s Golf team competed in the Black College Hall of Fame Invitational in Atlanta, GA on September 25th. Due to the soggy weekend, the invitational was a one-day 18 round tournament that saw Hampton finish in 7th place. Junior T.J. O’Neal finished tied for 3rd place in the individual standings.