Norfolk State football surges in second half, tops St. Francis 28-16

Norfolk State football
Posted at 11:00 PM, Sep 25, 2021

LORETTO, Pa.( – Senior quarterback Juwan Carter accounted for three touchdowns, all in the second half, and Norfolk State ran for 323 yards in a 28-16 non-conference win over St. Francis (Pa.) at DeGol Field on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing 10-7 at the half, the Spartans (2-2) outscored the Red Flash (1-3) 21-6 in the second half to win their second straight game. Carter rushed for one touchdown and passed for two more in the second half in the teams’ first-ever meeting.

Carter scored on a 4-yard run and tossed a 7-yard TD pass to Justin Smith as NSU outscored the Red Flash 14-0 in the third stanza. St. Francis drew within 21-16 on a short fourth-down TD pass with just more than five minutes left in the fourth, but the Spartans iced the game away with a long scoring drive that ended with Carter’s 25-yard TD pass to tight end Anthony Williams with 39 seconds left.

Both teams scored on their opening possession. The Red Flash took the opening kickoff and drove for a touchdown in four plays, with Kahtero Summers catching a 17-yard TD pass from Jyron Russell at the 13:24 mark.

The Spartans answered with a 12-play, 70-yard drive, most of which came on the ground. Rayquan Smith finished it off with a 1-yard run with 9:19 left in the first quarter. Josh Nardone’s PAT tied it.

The Red Flash drove inside the NSU 10-yard line on the following possession, but Devyn Coles recovered a fumble to thwart that threat.

After a Spartan punt, though, SFU took advantage of a short field to take a 10-7 lead on a 45-yard Alex Schmoke field goal with 3:56 remaining in the opening period.

Neither team scored in the second quarter, but NSU converted on its first two drives of the third. Carter directed a nine-play, 69-yard TD drive on the first possession of the period, capping it with his own 4-yard TD run to give the Spartans their first lead of the day at 14-10 with 10:44 left in the quarter.

St. Francis drove near midfield on the ensuing drive, but NSU forced a turnover on downs to regain possession. NSU then marched 47 yards in seven plays for another score. The first six plays of the drive were runs, but Carter ended the march with a 7-yard TD pass to Justin Smith for a 21-10 NSU lead at the 6:10 mark of the third period.

The Red Flash blocked an NSU punt early in the fourth to keep their hopes alive. Sliwoski later tossed a 2-yard TD pass on 4th-and-goal to Brandan Lisenby to draw SFU within 21-16 with 5:21 left to play.

But the NSU ground game went to work again, milking another 4:42 off the clock, churning out three first downs and forcing SFU to use the rest of its timeouts. Facing a 3rd-and-3 at the Red Flash 25 with less than one minute to play, Carter hit Williams on a play-action pass for a wide-open touchdown pass that sealed the win.

J.J. Davis ran 14 times for 93 yards to lead NSU’s balanced ground game. The Spartans had five running backs carry the ball plus Carter on the day, and amassed 211 of their rushing yards after halftime. Cameryn Brent added 14 rushes for a career-high 70 yards while Carter ran for 72 yards on 10 attempts and also passed for 99 yards and two scores. Smith caught six passes in the win.

Christian Ruffin and Tyler Long both finished with nine tackles apiece for the NSU defense, which yielded just six points after the first quarter. SFU had just 93 total yards in the second half. NSU also forced two turnovers on the day, on Coles’ recovered fumble in the first quarter and a third-quarter interception by Stuart Anderson Jr.

The Spartans have another road test next Saturday, but it’s much closer to home. NSU faces old rival Hampton in the Battle of the Bay at HU’s Armstrong Stadium at 2 p.m. on Oct. 2.