Hawks upend CIAA defending champ

Published 3:50 pm Monday, October 24, 2011

MURFREESBORO – The first time Chowan quarterback Cameron Stover touched the ball in Saturday’s homecoming game against the Bears, he fumbled and it led to a Shaw score.

The second time he touched it, he was sacked.

But after that it got better.

Much better.

The Michigan sophomore went on to throw for 374 yards and four touchdowns as the Hawks won their Homecoming 2011 game, 34-32, Saturday at Garrison Stadium and first this season over a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) opponent.

The Hawks, who had never beaten the two-time defending CIAA champs before, raised their record to 2-6 (1-4, CIAA) and broke a six-game losing streak. Shaw fell to 2-6 and 3-2 in the league.

The CIAA’s top receiving tandem – Kevin Hodrick and Robert Holland – finished with 149 and 117 receiving yards, respectively, and a touchdown catch apiece. Antjuan Randall and Sherman Ratliff also hauled in Stover scoring tosses.

DaKorian DeSamme scored the Hawks’ other touchdown on a pick-six when he made the first of his two interceptions on the evening and returned it 55 yards to paydirt.

The win marked the second time Chowan – who’s only been a member of the CIAA for three years – defeated a former league champ having knocked off Virginia Union in 2010.

“It’s a compliment to the young men in this program,” said exhausted, but exuberant, fourth year head coach, Tim Place. “We’ve faced some adversity this year, we’ve faced some tough time, and to their credit they competed.

“They’ve worked hard,” he added. “They showed up today and they competed for 60 minutes; and that’s all we can ask.”

Which begged us to ask if the Hawks have the best receiving corps in the CIAA.

“Oh, by far,” said Stover after the game, “I couldn’t do half the stuff without ’em.  They’re the best, hands-down.”

Or, hands up, hands sideways, or just hands, period.

“We’re just good on chemistry,” said Hodrick,. “We’ve got a quarterback who can just distribute it to everybody so it makes it just that much easier to just catch and go.”

After stopping the Bears on Shaw’s opening possession, Stover mishandled his first hand-off and Shaw fell on the bobbled pigskin at the 11-yard line. Two plays and an extra-point later the Bears led it, 7-0.

It didn’t take the Hawks long to get the equalizer.

On Chowan’s third drive, that began at the Shaw 32-yard line following a punt return by Randall. Stover hit a wide-open Ratliff in the endzone on one play and the Ryan Murphy kick knotted the score at 7-7.

Shaw scored again to lead 13-7 as the first quarter wound down and could’ve had more, but a 33-yard Lyncon Shepard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Chowan’s defense stepped up in the second period.

Each team had two turnovers and on Chowan’s third possession of the quarter Stover commandeered a nine-play 68-yard drive. The drama came at the 35 yard line.

The drive ended when a Shaw defender bit on the curl route and Randall hauled in a Stover pass on the 15 and outran the other defenders to the endzone. The extra-point gave Chowan its first lead, 14-13.

Shaw tried to regain momentum, but on the eleventh play of the drive, DeSamme stepped in front of an offering by Bears quarterback Quinshon Odom at the Shaw 45 and let his blockers do the rest, motoring 55 yards to the endzone.

“From the minute I picked it off I knew I was gonna score,” DeSamme said after the game, “because I got speed that could take it all the way.”

Murphy drilled the extra point and Chowan led by more than a touchdown in a game, 21-13, for the first time since opening night.

DeSamme ended the quarter by picking off Odom again with three seconds until halftime.  In a half where Shaw had double the possession time as the home team, Chowan’s capitalizing of four of seven turnovers made the difference.

The third quarter, however, was mistake-free.

Chowan scored on its second possession: Stover with his third touchdown toss of the evening, a 35-yard scoring strike to Hodrick that grew the Hawks’ lead to 14 points, 27-13.

But with just over two minutes left in the quarter Shaw mounted their comeback: a quick touchdown made it 27-20. Then the Bears scored again opening the fourth stanza after getting into Hawk territory thanks to a fake punt.

A Fred Holliday 10-yard scamper got the Bears within one, 27-26, and the visitors could have tied it, but kicker Lyncon Shepard’s kick sailed wide for a second time on the evening leaving the Bears a point short.

With under six minutes to go, Stover directed the final Chowan scoring drive of the evening: hitting Holland for his CIAA-leading tenth touchdown of the year and an eight-point Hawks’ lead again, 34-26.

Back came Shaw on an eight-play drive that resulted in Odom’s third touchdown. The Bears then went for two and a tie, but Odom overthrew his receiver and it remained 34-32.

Shaw’s last gasp fell 40 yards short of paydirt when Odom was stopped on fourth down and the already-raucous Homecoming stadium erupted as the final seconds ticked off.

Patrick Charles paced the defense with eight tackles and an interception.

“Our D-line made them hurry throws,” he said, “and the rest was just limiting mistakes and playing our keys. That’s how you win.”

“You’ve just got to trust everybody on the team,” said Mark McCadden, who had six tackles and a quarterback sack. “It was a bit nerve-wracking, but it was a good win.”

“I think we’re getting ready to start a run,” said Holland, “and I think it’s time, everybody’s hungry.”

“This was a total team effort,” said Place, “and it was needed because being close doesn’t help the cause.”

Chowan closes out its home season Saturday with a 12-noon kickoff against Elizabeth City State, which wrapped up the CIAA-North Division race thanks to a 23-12 win over Bowie.  If the Hawks defeat the Vikings they will finish over .500 at home.