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Fourth Quarter lifts Hawks

MURFREESBORO – This time there was no wild hoopla on the field afterward nor students tearing down the goalposts.

There was the obligatory dousing of the new coach with a victory shower from the Gatorade bucket.

More importantly, there were the players and coaches — and even Athletic Director Dennis Helsel and University President Dr. Chris White — pointing to the stands and thanking the crowd for its support.

As Chowan capped a come-from-behind 23-20 win over Brevard College Saturday at Garrison Stadium for its first win of the college football season – and first ever over an NCAA Division-II opponent – the post-victory celebration seemed almost understated.

“They know what they’re doing over there,” said an exhausted, but elated Chowan University Head Football Coach Tim Place in the post-game interview as he nodded toward the locker room. “It’s just a question of getting it done, and today everything clicked.”

Down 20-3 with just a Cory Cline 23-yard field goal Chowan had only scored six points in their previous 11 quarters.

Then the Hawks rallied with a furious comeback to score 20 points in little more than 16 minutes.

“The offensive staff’s been a little salty the last two weeks,” added Place with a grin, “because it hasn’t been fun. But they kept the faith and they got it done.”

They got it done in the last 16 minutes-and-13-seconds.

Nearing the end of the third quarter quarterback C.J. Westler drove his team to midfield and on a play-action pass completed a strike to receiver J.J. Spates down to the Brevard 12. Westler then threw incomplete to Tim Watson, but Brevard was whistled for pass interference setting up the Hawks at the two-yardline. Two plays later Westler found tight end Watson on a crossing pattern in the end zone for the Hawks’ first touchdown of the season. The Cline extra-point kick made it a 10-point deficit at 20-10.

Brevard’s next series took the game into the fourth quarter, but the Tornadoes were forced to punt. Starting just short of the 30-yard line Chowan drove to the Brevard 47 where running back Brandon Myrick found the seam in the middle of the defensive line, juked a couple of tacklers, then kicked it another gear to outrace the safety and scampered 47 yards to paydirt. Following the kick, the Hawks only trailed by three, 20-17.

“It was a designed play,” said the Fayetteville senior after the game, “but once I found the crease I just ran as hard as I could.”

The Hawks now had 11 minutes to complete the comeback, but it came on the very next series. Brevard quarterback Kyle Hamilton, on a second-down attempt near midfield dropped back to pass and Chowan’s Jomo Brown made an athletic leap to block the pass and ended up with the interception. He then raced 34 yards to the Brevard 21 yardline and it took just one play after a penalty call pushed them back for Westler to find James Fox on a pass that he took to the end-zone. Despite Cline’s missed extra-point the Hawks lead for the first time, 23-20, with just over eight minutes to play.

After holding the Tornadoes and forcing a punt it looked as if fate had turned on the Hawks as a fumble gave Brevard the ball back on the Chowan 30-yardline. After gaining just one yard on three plays, Brevard went for a game-tying field goal, but kicker Chase Henry’s 43-yard attempt sailed wide-right – his second miss of the day – and Chowan still had the lead.

Brevard had one final chance, but on fourth-and-four at the Chowan 34, Hamilton’s final pass sailed over his receiver’s head and Chowan ran out the clock to secure the win.

Westler finished with 18 completions for 190 yards including two touchdown tosses. Myrick was the leading rusher with 70 yards on nine carries and one score while freshman Spates tallied 52 yards on six carries. Among receivers James Fox had four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Marcus Johnson lead all tacklers with nine while Jeremy Bednardz-Gray had six. Andrae Deweese had the Hawks’ lone quarterback sack.

“The senior leadership is mostly on defense,” said Brown afterward, “but with these coaches we’re a lot more disciplined and down the road I see more wins for this program.”

“You don’t win games saying something magical right before the game,” said Place. “It’s the preparation and refining that put you in a position to win. We had a quality week (of practice) and we just gotta keep having quality weeks.”

Chowan (1-2, 0-2, CIAA) travels to Lexington, Virginia next Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff against their only NCAA-FCS opponent on the schedule as they’re matched against the Keydets of VMI.