NORFOLK (WAVY) – Gerard Johnson rushed 20 times for 119 yards and a touchdown and Norfolk State, who trailed 14-7 at halftime, stormed back in the second half to take a 24-14 win over rival Hampton in the annual “Battle of the Bay.” Latrell Scott’s first win as the Spartans’ head coach comes against the program’s biggest rival.
He said afterward his Spartans (1-3, 1-0) were starving for some FCS competition after opening with road losses against three straight FBS opponents, and they certainly made the most of it. “They’ve been through hell these last three weeks and we’ve challenged them and haven’t made any excuses about our schedule. We’re better for it,” said Scott at his post-game press conference.
Meanwhile, the Pirates (2-2, 1-1) came in with the top scoring offense in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference, but didn’t have much of an answer for NSU’s tenacious defense line. The Spartans managed to sack Hampton quarterback David Watford twice and forced the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week into three interceptions.
“You got to credit those guys’ defense,” said Hampton Head Coach Connell Maynor, who’s now 0-2 against the Pirates. “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.”
Norfolk State struck first when Johnson broke a 23-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead. Hampton scored the next 14. Christopher Dukes walked into the endzone to tie the game at 7, and then Watford connected with Rayshad Riddick just before halftime to give the Pirates a 14-7 edge.
A Spartan field goal made it 14-10 midway through the third quarter, then quarterback Greg Hankerson hit Isaac White in the endzone to give NSU a 17-14 lead. Quintreil Chung extended the Spartan lead to 10 with a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Watford completed 21 of 44 passes for 180 yards and his only touchdown to Riddick. Hankerson completed 13 of 28 for 176 yards a touchdown and an interception.