Norfolk State wins their third straight Battle of the Bay 17-10

Posted at 11:54 PM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-19 23:54:06-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Gerard Johnson scored on an 80-yard touchdown run to put Norfolk State into the lead midway through the fourth quarter, and the Spartans' defense made the score stand up to give NSU its third consecutive Battle of the Bay win by a 17-10 score over Hampton on Saturday afternoon at Armstrong Stadium.

The Spartans (4-7 overall, 3-5 MEAC) capped the season by winning three of their final four games. The win Saturday gave NSU its first two-game win streak of the season and gives the Spartans their first three-game win streak over Hampton (5-5, 5-3) since 1978-80.

Saturday's win was similar to last week's win over South Carolina State, with the defense clinching the win after a timely score by the offense. Johnson, who fumbled earlier in the half, broke a 10-10 tie with his 80-yard burst on a draw play with 8:37 remaining. The score was the senior running back's second rushing TD of the year, his longest run as a Spartan and the longest play by NSU this season.

The NSU defense forced a three-and-out on Hampton's next drive, and the Spartans' offense then took nearly four minutes off the clock before punter Cameron Marouf pinned the Pirates at their 9-yard line for their final possession. Hampton drove nine plays and reached the NSU 44, but Hampton quarterback Jaylian Williamson's pass over the middle was intercepted by Spartan safety Bobby Price at the NSU 16 with 26 seconds left. Price's pick was the season-high fourth of the day for the NSU defense.

The third interception of the day provided the Spartans' first touchdown. With the teams tied at 3-all coming out of the locker room, NSU linebacker T.C. Livingston sniffed out a pass by HU backup quarterback Keon Marsh near the sideline. Livingston stepped in front of the throw and weaved in and out of the Pirates for a 40-yard touchdown. The Spartans' first defensive touchdown of the season gave NSU a 10-3 lead with 13:01 left in the third quarter.

Williamson, who was injured in the first half, came back into the game after Livingston's interception and led HU on a 13-play, 72-yard game-tying drive. Eric Carter capped the march with a 2-yard run with 5:06 left in the third quarter, knotting the score at 10-all.

All either team could manage was one field goal in a first half marred by 16 total penalties. Hampton's Anthony Prevost kicked a 27-yarder in the first quarter, and NSU's Marouf tied the score at 3-all with a 33-yarder with one second left before halftime.

NSU rushed 31 times for a season-high 222 yards. In his final collegiate game, Johnson ran seven times for 100 yards, the first 100-yard rushing game by a Spartan since Johnson ran for 103 at Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 24, 2015. He was named the Offensive Player of the Game.

Also playing his final collegiate game, quarterback Greg Hankerson rushed 11 times for 82 yards while also throwing for 102 yards.

Hampton outgained the Spartans 385-324, but the NSU defense made a number of big plays to keep the Pirates off the scoreboard. NSU made two interceptions in each half. The first came inside the Spartans' red zone when Hampton, leading 3-0 in the first quarter, attempted a wide receiver pass that cornerback Harry Freeman V picked off and returned 54 yards into NSU territory. Safety Donte' Haynesworth also had an interception in the opening half.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Cephas Harden, starting for the second straight week, led all players with 14 tackles to earn Battle of the Bay Defensive Player of the Game honors. Senior safety and co-captain Brandon Walker added nine tackles.

Head coach Latrell Scott became the first Spartan coach to begin his NSU tenure with two straight wins over Hampton since Bob Ledbetter in 1972-73.