NORFOLK, Va. (NSUSports.com) – Norfolk State suffered its second straight loss in heart-breaking fashion, as Delaware State rallied from a 26-0 deficit to score the final 28 points – 21 in the fourth quarter - in a 28-26 Hornets’ victory on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
The Spartans (6-4, 2-2 MEAC) played near flawless football in a first half which ended with them on top 26-0. But the Hornets slowly rallied, eventually overcoming their deficit on a pair of fourth-down touchdown passes – the last a 30-yard TD throw from Jared Lewis to Trey Gross with 1:53 remaining to put the Hornets in front 28-26.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jake Bridel’s hard squib kick hit an NSU up-man, and the Hornets’ Daniel Douglas recovered. DSU (5-5, 2-2) picked up one first down and ran out the clock.
On a blustery day at Alumni Stadium, neither offense could get much going early. But following the Hornets’ third drive a punt into the wind hit into the oncoming rushers. Christian Ruffin scooped up the loose ball and returned it 3 yards for the score, his second blocked punt return score of the year. The point after attempt failed.
The Spartan came to life in the second quarter, scoring three straight times after the blocked punt. Cameryn capped the next NSU possession with a 1-yard TD, finishing a six-play, 57-yard drive. J.J. Davis scored on an 8-yard run at the 6:24 mark of the second quarter to finish off an 11-play, 80-yard scoring march and give the Spartans a 20-0 edge.
Following a Stuart Anderson Jr. interception, the Spartans found the end zone again seven plays later. Juwan Carter tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Justin Smith to extend the lead to 26-0.
DSU scored its first points of the game on an 8-yard TD run by Sy’Veon Wilkerson with 8:45 left in the third quarter. The Hornets proceeded to outscore NSU 21-0 in the fourth quarter thanks to three TD passed by Lewis. On the first, he hit Wade Inge on a 47-yarder with 12:48 remaining after DSU intercepted a tipped pass thrown by Juwan Carter.
The Spartans went three-and-out on their next possession and Trey Gross tipped a punt by NSU’s Ryan Richter to set the Hornets up at the NSU 37. Eight plays later, on 4th-and-12, Lewis found Inge on a 17-yard TD pass to bring NSU within 26-21 with 7:08 remaining.
NSU gained one first down on its next drive but was eventually forced to punt. The Hornets then drove 72 yards in seven plays, the last of which was a 30-yard TD hookup from Lewis to Gross on 4th-and-5.
Lewis completed just 11-of-22 passes and was intercepted twice, but he passed for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Lewis passed for 205 yards in the second half. Wilkerson ran for 73 yards and a TD.
Davis topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the third straight game for the Spartans and fourth time this season. He rushed 20 times for 115 yards and a score. Carter was 13-of-23 for 125 yards with one TD and two picks for the Spartans.
De’Shaan Dixon had eight tackles, 3.5 for loss, with 1.5 sacks for the Spartan defense. Tyler Long added nine tackles. Anderson and Devyn Coles both intercepted passes for the Spartans.
The Spartans host South Carolina State at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Dick Price Stadium. The game is Military Appreciation and Senior Day.