Norfolk State’s season opener started well but ended in bizarre fashion as Virginia State pulled of a 33-24 upset in the latest edition of the Labor Day Classic.
The Spartans will have to put that loss behind them and take a trip across the Chesapeake Bridge to battle Hampton on Saturday night. For head coach Dawson Odums, it’s a chance for his team to write a new chapter for the 2023 season.
“Within 24 hours, you’ve got to move on to the next one, accept the corrections and criticism,” Odums said. “We’ve got 60 minutes to determine what people write and say about our football team. We’ve got to get focused on what’s next and play like we’re capable of playing.”
Norfolk State led 17-7 after the first quarter, but the Trojans countered with two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 20-17 lead at the half. NSU responded to take a 24-20 lead into the fourth quarter but trailed 27-24 when Virginia State failed to run the clock out deep in their own territory. The Spartans lined up for a tying field goal attempt with one second left, but the snapshot 20 yards back up the field, and Virginia State returned it for a touchdown to close the scoring.
“[VSU] is a good football team, but we were a good football team that didn’t play like one, and I take full responsibility for it,” Odums said. “We didn’t tackle well, we dropped passes. Got a chance to kick a field goal, but a bad snap happened. A lot of it is us, and we’ve got to fix it this week.”
Facing the Pirates gives Odums hope that another big-time rivalry game will inspire his team to execute better.
“We’ve got to get guys in position to help this football team win because we gave a game away,” he said. “This is a chance to challenge our team. This is the story we wrote, so this is the one we have to read until we play another good football team on Saturday.”