Talk about throwing the records out the window: Struggling Norfolk State played MEAC frontrunner Hampton to a virtual standstill, before falling 7-6.
A stingy performance by the defense for the Spartans (2-4 overall, and 1-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), however, was ultimately negated during this annual “Battle of the Bay” by continuing misfires on offense and special teams.
A win, according to Pirates coach Donovan Rose, is a win … is a win: “We could win by point-five; I’ll take it,” he said. “That’s 4-0 in the conference. I don’t know what everybody else does, but I know we’re steadily going forward.”
At least, Antwon Chisholm is. He was reliably brilliant for Hampton (5-1, 4-0), running for 98 yards and a 7-yard second-quarter touchdown. But Norfolk answered Chisholm’s second-quarter score with 1-yard run by DeAngelo Branche in the third period.
Too bad Ryan Estep missed the extra point try. That was the difference.
So, Hampton — which just keeps on winning, despite its own miscues — scored one more point than it did a year ago in the Battle of the Bay, when the Pirates lost by 40 points. This time, however, they won.
Branche finished with 132 yards on 25 carries for Norfolk, which had now dropped three in a row. That’s the record that he’s focusing on, even as he nears the school’s career rushing mark: “It really doesn’t matter how much I run for if we don’t win,” he said.
The Spartans later drove to the Hampton 37, but Chris Walley was picked off at the 5. In the fourth, Norfolk continued to keep Hampton out of the endzone — but never got anything going offensively, twice turning the ball over on downs. The last time came with just 27 ticks left on the game clock.
Hampton quarterback David Legree finished with just 129 yards, but that looked like Water Payton Award material compared with Norfolk’s Walley — who had 12 yards passing until adding 39 on that final, unsuccessful drive.
“I’ve got to get better,” Walley said. “Right now, I suck. It’s been a month without a touchdown or a 100-yard game. I’m playing like a junior college player right now.”
Estep has now missed a pair of point-after attempts, and is 4-for-7 on field goals this season.