FSU knocks off Chowan

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MURFREESBORO – Okay, so maybe it was “Mission Impossible.”

Before Saturday night’s game with Fayetteville State, the Chowan football team, despite being 0-5 and more importantly, 0-2, in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association may’ve had a chance to play their way to not only a .500 record but maybe a ‘way-outside’ chance of making the championship game.

That last part could still happen, but the odds became longer when the Hawks fell however, 37-17, to the Broncos.

Chowan entered Saturday’s game having not played a Western Division foe until Fayetteville State came to Jim Garrison Stadium. The meeting with the Broncos was also the first of four home games remaining on Chowan’s schedule, with their lone road trip being to division cellar-dweller, Livingstone, in Salisbury.

Had they won those final five match-ups they would’ve been atop the division and perhaps poised for a title shot.

But that’s all what might have been.

Despite quarterback C.J. Westler connecting on a pair of touchdown tosses to Kevin Hodrick and Cory Cline kicking his sixth field goal of the season, the Hawks trailed the entire night and could never catch up.

Meanwhile, the Broncos amassed 434 yards of total offense while holding Westler under 200 yards passing for the first time all season.

“They’re a very, very good defense,” said second-year head coach Tim Place. “They exposed us and we were inconsistent. But we were inconsistent because of Fayetteville State.

“They’re a pre-season number-one,” he added, “and you’re not number-one for no reason.”

One thing exposed might have been the Hawks’ deep threat. They had just one pass for longer than 30 yards the entire night, and Chowan’s ability to stretch the field is a weapon they had used effectively all season.

But there was an especially bright spot in Chowan’s offensive performance: Hampton, Virginia freshman Ray Bradley who had 132 yards rushing on 18 carries. The second best running game for the Hawks this year and most yards racked up on the ground since the Elizabeth City State game.

“I thought at times we did some good things in all phases,” said Place, “and at times we did some things that hurt us. And I don’t know if the things that hurt us were because of Fayetteville State or because of us.”

After surrendering an early touchdown to the Broncos, Chowan came right back and made it 7-3 when Cline connected from 39 yards out for the only scoring of the first quarter.

FSU added a field goal nine minutes into the second quarter to make it 10-3, and on the first play after the kickoff Westler was intercepted by the Broncos’ Gerard Atkinson who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. That made it 10 points in 15 seconds and a 17-3 FSU lead.

Two possessions later, Fayetteville again found the endzone for a 24-3 lead at halftime.

Chowan opened the second half by driving 65 yards for their first touchdown – a 29-yard strike by Westler to Hodrick – who beat his man deep for six and the PAT made it 24-10.

But on the very next series Chowan’s defense got beaten in coverage on a 59-yard pass to the five-yard line and FSU needed just one short run to push the lead back out to 21, at 31-10.

FSU opened the fourth quarter with a field goal to make it 34-10 before Westler connected with Hodrick on their second hook-up of the night and Chowan’s final touchdown. The Broncos (3-3, 2-1, CIAA) added a field goal for the final margin of victory.

“We just have to learn from this and bounce back,” said Hodrick. “We can’t feel sorry and put our heads down.”

“Last week it was the first half we played good,” said linebacker Jeremy Bednardz-Gray, who was credited with a pair of sacks on the evening. “This week it was the second half. We’ve just got to put it together and play a complete game.”

“We’re competing hard and fighting hard,” said defensive end Greg Palmer who had an interception. “Nobody’s blowing us out and we’ve just got to clean up our miscues.”

“We’ve got four games left beginning with a team that remembers we beat them last year,” he added. “We just have to keep fighting hard. We never give up.”

Chowan (0-6, 0-3,CIAA) is at also-winless Livingstone next Saturday before closing out the year with three straight home contests starting with division co-leader, Shaw, on October 17 in a game with another 6 p.m. kickoff.