Norfolk, Va. - Greg Hankerson threw two touchdown passes and Quintrel Chung tallied 81 yards and a TD on the ground to lift Norfolk State to a 20-12 win over Elizabeth City State on Sunday night in the ABNB Labor Day Classic at Dick Price Stadium.
Seniors James Church and redshirt freshman George Wahee both caught their first career scoring passes for the Spartans (1-0), who won their season-opener for the first time since defeating Virginia State in 2012. Sunday's game - the first meeting between the schools since 1996 - was delayed a day due to the effects of Hurricane Hermine.
NSU scored first when Chung capped an eight-play, 48-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run with 7:14 left in the first quarter. But the Vikings (0-1) responded late in the period with quarterback Daquan Neal's 3-yard TD run with 24 seconds left in the stanza. The PAT was blocked, however, keeping the Spartans in the lead at 7-6.
Hankerson hit Church on a 7-yard TD pass at the 11:06 mark of the second quarter to culminate a 12-play, 64-yard drive. But ECSU kept it close heading into the half as Neal hit Victor Tabbs on a 29-yard pass play on the final play of the second quarter. The Vikings went for a two-point conversion to attempt to tie the score, but Neal's pass fell incomplete.
The Spartans capped the scoring with 2:50 left in the third quarter as Hankerson found Wahee on a 12-yard TD pass, extending the NSU lead to 20-12.
The NSU defense made the lead stand up, forcing a turnover on downs, a fumble and a punt by ECSU in the final quarter. The Vikings' first drive of the quarter reached the NSU 32-yard line. But NSU linebacker Kyle Archie sacked Neal for an 8-yard loss on fourth down.
On ECSU's ensuing possession, backup quarterback Jamond Oatman was sacked and stripped of the ball near midfield by NSU defensive linemen Walter Brantley and Terrell Reid. Brantley fell on the fumble to give NSU possession.
The Vikings' had one more chance, taking over at their 30-yard line with 5:53 left. But ECSU lost two yards over the course of its next three plays and opted to punt. The Spartans ran out the clock, with Hankerson threading a needle to Taylor for a 37-yard gain on 3rd-and-17 to seal the win.
Hankerson passed for 151 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 54 yards on 13 carries, finishing with 205 total yards. Chung posted career highs of 18 rushed for 81 yards as NSU racked up 170 yards on the ground.
Taylor led NSU's receivers with 70 yards on three catches. Church also caught three passes.
Neal threw for 238 yards and a score for the Vikings. James Roe, son of the former Spartan great by the same name, had eight catches for 112 yards.
Defensively, freshman Bobby Price led NSU with eight tackles in his first college game. Transfer cornerback Hakiem Swann made seven stops in his first game as a Spartan, while linebacker T.C. Livingston made a career-high seven in his first start.
The Spartans have a short week before meeting Richmond in the state's capital city next Saturday at 6 p.m. It will be the first meeting between NSU and the Spiders, who advanced to the FCS playoff semifinals last year.