Norfolk State football
Photo: NSU Athletics

HAMPTON, Va. – The first Battle of the Bay in four years didn’t disappoint.

Quarterback Juwan Carter jumped over the goal line for a 1-yard TD sneak in overtime to lift Norfolk State to a 47-44 win over Hampton in the highest-scoring game in rivalry history on Saturday afternoon at Armstrong Stadium.

Carter rushed for career highs of 92 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 294 yards and two more TDs, helping NSU (3-2) rally from a 10-point halftime deficit to win its third game in a row.

The Spartans forced the Pirates (2-2) to turn the ball over four times, three on interceptions. NSU had three takeaways in the second half, leading to 17 Spartan points.

The Pirates scored on their first two drives of the game to take a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Axel Perez kicked a 26-yard field goal and KeyRon Catlett caught a 1-yard TD pass from Jett Duffey to give the Pirates the early lead.

NSU got on the board early in the second quarter on a 15-yard TD run by Carter, capping an eight-play drive. The Pirates, though, responded with a 31-yard TD pass from Duffey to Romon Copeland, but NSU scored the next 10 points to tie it up. Josh Nardone capped a six-play, 66-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal to bring the Spartans within 17-10.

The Spartans came up with the lone turnover of the half on HU’s next drive, as Justin Toler stepped in front of a Duffey pass and returned it 47 yards to the HU 19. Five plays later, J.J. Davis scored on an 8-yard run, and Nardone’s PAT tied it with 3:52 left in the half. It was the first interception of Toler’s career and his first of two on the day.

But the Pirates were in the end zone 42 seconds later, as Duffey connected with Jadakis Bonds on a 49-yard TD pass. Perez tacked on a 35-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the half to give the Pirates a 27-17 lead entering halftime.

NSU’s first takeaway of the second half led to its first points of the second half. R.J. Coles recovered a Hampton fumble forced by Marquis Hall, and three plays later Carter hit Marcque Ellington on a 6-yard TD pass to cut HU’s lead to 27-24.

Hampton drove deep into NSU territory on the ensuing possession, but Spartan cornerback Brandon Savage intercepted a Duffey pass in the end zone to thwart the Pirates’ chance. Five plays later, Carter rushed in from 17 yards out, fighting through two tackles near the goal line, to help give the Spartans a 31-27 lead with 1:58 left in the third quarter.

Back and forth the teams went from there. Elijah Burris scored on a 5-yard run on the Pirates’ next possession to put the hosts up 34-31. NSU answered on the next play from scrimmage, as Carter hit Smith on a 70-yard TD pass to put NSU back in front.

Josh Nardone kicked a 20-yard field goal with 8:14 left in the fourth quarter to put the Spartans up 41-34. NSU forced a punt and appeared ready to put the game away, but missed a 48-yard field goal with 1:41 left in the fourth.

Hampton then drove 70 yards in eight plays, scoring the tying touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Duffey to Bonds with 12 seconds left in the game. The Pirates initially lined up to go for two and the lead after Bonds’ TD grab, but a penalty backed the Pirates up and they settled for the tying PAT by Perez.

Hampton got the ball to start the OT, but NSU forced the Pirates to settle for a 28-yard Perez field goal and a 44-41 lead.

Then it was Carter and the NSU offense’s turn. Carter hit Smith on a 22-yard fade pass on the first play of the drive, moving the ball to the HU 3. After a 2-yard run by Lex Henry moved it to the Pirates’ 1, Carter took the second-down snap from center, pushed behind center Colby Byrd, leaped and extended the ball over the goal line for the winning points.

Carter completed 17-of-31 passes for 294 yards. He also ran 17 times for 92 yards. In doing so, he passed Aaron Sparrow’s previous school record for career total offensive yards.

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J.J. Davis carried the ball six times for 74 yards and one touchdown, while Smith hauled in five passes for a career-high 144 yards and a TD.

Duffey passed for 370 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions for Hampton. Bonds caught six passes for 155 yards and two scores.

The 91 points are the most in the series, surpassing HU’s 53-28 win in 1994 (81 combined points). NSU’s 47 points are its second-most in rivalry history behind the 1970 team, which won 52-0.

Saturday’s marked the teams’ first game since 2017. Hampton left the MEAC for the Big South following that school year. The teams are slated to play each year through 2024, with a matchup at Dick Price Stadium scheduled for next year.

The Spartans are off next Saturday before returning to Dick Price Stadium for Homecoming against Virginia University of Lynchburg at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Courtesy: NSU Athletics



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