Hawks battle back, but fall to VSU

Published 1:39 pm Monday, September 27, 2010

MURFREESBORO – A tale of two halves.

Chowan University’s football team put up a valiant comeback in the second half – outscoring visiting Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association foe, Virginia State, 13-3 – but came up short, 20-13, and dropped their fourth game of the season.

The Hawks also got some great numbers from several players on all sides of the ball.

Offensively, freshman quarterback Cameron Stover threw for 215 yards and a touchdown, sophomore receiver Robert Holland caught Chowan’s lone touchdown and finished with 11 catches and 152 yards while running back Elliot Smalls just missed rushing for the century mark with 91 yards on 19 carries.

On special teams, freshman kicker Derek Embree booted a pair of field goals.

Defensively, freshman defensive back Anthony Hooks had two interceptions and the senior tri-captains made some good noise: former Hertford County High star linebacker Leon Eason had eight tackles and a fumble recovery; defensive lineman Brad Cash had six tackles, two for a loss, along with a sack and defensive back Marcus Johnson had five solo tackles.

“We can’t make excuses,” said third-year coach Tim Place. “We just didn’t get it done.  We get in the red-zone and the green-zone and we have to score.

“We’ve gotta do a better job in all phases,” he added, “and we’ve just got to keep working.  We didn’t turn the ball over, which was good.”

Each team was three-for-four inside the red-zone, but while the visiting Trojans collected two touchdowns and a field goal, Chowan had a couple of field goals and one touchdown.

“We left points off the board,” said Place, “and it ended up being a seven-point game.”

In the first quarter, Virginia State’s first drive was stymied by Hooks’ first interception.

“I was going for the pick,” said the Charlotte native, “I just wanted to make a play for my defense.”

The Hawks then drove to the 47 yards to the VSU 29 yardline. Stover was sacked on the next play, then lost seven more yards on a keeper.  After an incompletion at the Trojan 31-yardline the Hawks went for it on fourth down, but turned the ball over on downs when Stover was sacked a second time on the drive.

Virginia State capitalized by going 71 yards for their first touchdown and a 7-0 lead after the extra point.  Then, in the second quarter, VSU got another touchdown and, on the ensuing kickoff, returner Tony Goodman went 34 yards to the VSU 47.

However, the Hawks were stopped again on fourth down at the 34.

Virginia State added a late field goal and led it, 17-0, at halftime.

Things turned more in Chowan’s favor in the second half: beginning with a drive to the VSU 12-yardline highlighted by a 40-yard completion from Stover to Holland.  But after a pair of incompletions and a short run by Smalls the Hawks settled for a 29-yard field goal and trailed, 17-3.

VSU was driving late in the third quarter when Hooks got his second interception. The Hawks were able to capitalize, scoring to open the fourth quarter on a drive begun late in the third and culminating with Embree’s second field goal, this one from 28 yards out to make it, 17-6.

The Trojans were able to tack on a field goal to go back in front by 14 again, 20-6, with under three-and-a-half minutes to play.

On their final drive Stover completed five of six passes, including three short routes to Holland, to get to the VSU 27.  After another completion, three misses had Chowan facing fourth-and-six from the 23. The pass to Holland was incomplete, but a Trojan penalty gave the Hawks four more chances, this time from the 13-yard line.

It only took Stover one play to find Holland in the back of the end zone for the scoring strike and the extra point had the Hawks within a touchdown of a tie with under a minute to play.

Chowan lined up for an onside kick, and as Embree dribbled the ball perfectly toward the Trojan receivers Chowan fell on the ball for what looked to be a final shot at a tie or a win.

However, the Hawks were whistled for an illegal touch and VSU (3-1, 2-0, CIAA) simply ran out the clock to preserve the win.

“They (Chowan) battled and they battled,” said VSU coach Andrew Faison, shaking his head, “I think they’re going to win some football games, I’m just glad we were able to squeak by.”

“We only gave up three in the second half,” said noseguard Ethan Reedy after the game, “But we’re going to do that every week, we’re going to ball hard.”

“I made a lot of freshman mistakes,” said an exhausted Stover afterward. “I just gotta work harder now to avoid that.”

“We just gotta ball-out and work a little harder every week,” added Holland.  “You can see it paid off tonight.”

Chowan (0-4, 0-2, CIAA) will host Virginia Union Saturday back at Garrison Stadium for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff still seeking their first win of the season.

(By Gene Motley, Sports Writer)