HAMPTON, Va. – Thursday was Senior Night at Armstrong Stadium, but the performance of freshman quarterback Jerrell Antoine keyed the Hampton University football team’s 40-35 upset win over No. 18/20 Bethune-Cookman.
The Pirates (3-8, 2-5 MEAC) scored 40 points in a game for the first time since Nov. 19, 2011, when they put up 42 against Morgan State.
Antoine (Orlando, Fla.) completed 21 of 34 passes for a career-high 249 yards and five touchdowns. Junior wideout SeQuan Gooding (Chesapeake, Va.) caught seven of those passes for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns, while junior wide receiver Rayshad Riddick (Portsmouth, Va.) had 44 yards on six catches with two scores.
Freshman running back Eric Carter Jr. (Fayetteville, N.C.) rushed for a career-high 120 yards on 13 carries, marking his second career 100-yard rushing game.
Hampton got off to the best start possible, forcing a Wildcats turnover on the first series of the game when junior defensive end Miles Grooms (Richmond, Va.) sacked Quentin Williams and senior defensive end Robert Copeland (Hampton, Va.) scooped up the loose ball.
The Pirates wound up with the ball in the red zone, needing just three plays before Antoine hit Gooding from 10 yards out to put Hampton up 7-0 just two minutes into the game.
Bethune-Cookman gave the Pirates prime field position again later in the quarter on a punt gone wrong, and the Pirates cashed in thanks to a 29-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Anthony Prevost (Chesterfield, Va.) to go up 10-0 at the 6:43 mark.
The Wildcats (8-3, 5-2 MEAC) got on the board for the first time with 5:46 left in the first quarter after a 54-yard touchdown run from Michael Jones to cut the lead to 10-7.
Hampton answered with a 10-play, 77-yard drive, taking a 16-7 lead with 1:41 left in the quarter after Antoine hit Gooding from 21 yards out.
Anthony Jordan capped off a busy first quarter with a 51-yard touchdown run, cutting Hampton’s lead to 16-14 at the 1:13 mark.
The Pirates marched down the field, going 74 yards in eight plays, before Antoine hit redshirt sophomore wide receiver Twarn Mixson (Charlotte, N.C.) from 19 yards out to put Hampton up 23-14 with 8:34 left in the half.
Antoine threw another touchdown pass with 2:07 left in the half, hooking up with Riddick on an 18-yard score to give Hampton a 30-14 lead.
Bethune-Cookman scored with 18 seconds left in the half, cutting Hampton’s lead to 30-21 on a 2-yard run from Anthony.
Another Antoine-to-Riddick connection – from nine yards out with 5:29 left in the third quarter – gave the Pirates a 37-21 cushion, before Jordan cut that lead to 37-28 with a 13-yard touchdown run at the 3:31 mark of the third quarter.
Prevost hit his second field goal of the night, a 30-yarder with 13:08 left in the contest, to give the Pirates a 40-28 lead.
A 4-yard run from Larry Brihm with 5:28 to go cut the lead to 40-35, and the Wildcats had the ball in the waning seconds, but time expired before Bethune-Cookman could take one last shot at the end zone.
Five Pirates finished the night with double-digit tackles, lead by junior linebacker Frank Morlock (Rio Rancho, N.M.) with 15 and senior defensive back Khambrel McGee (Miami, Fla.) had 14 stops. Grooms had 10 total tackles, three for loss, and 3.5 sacks.
The Pirates defense had seven sacks on the night.