Elizabeth City holds off Chowan
ELIZABETH CITY – And now it becomes a new battle.
Their hopes of first place outright in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) North dashed at the hands of Elizabeth City State, 47-21, Chowan now moves on to its next challenge: that of seizing second-place in the division race.
That and quickly putting the bitter memory of Saturday’s trip to Pasquotank County behind them.
Saturday marked the third time the Hawks had come to Roebuck Stadium and their second time as the Vikings’ Homecoming opponent. The result, well, it was the same.
This time the culprit was turnovers (four, including three fumbles) and for the second straight week over a hundred yards in penalties (12-for-129 yards).
On the bright side, senior running back Elliot Smalls had his second career hundred-yard rushing day with 23 carries for 109 yards.
Though not as sharp as he’d been in his previous five games, quarterback Cameron Stover amassed 165 passing yards completing 13-of-26. Ryan Nolan collected four of those passes for 74 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Defensively, T.J. Batchelor added to his ninth-place standing in the national NCAA Division-II statistics with another sack giving him nine-and-a-half for the year. He also had nine tackles against the Vikes..
‘You’d like to think we could play them here (Roebuck Stadium), but it was not a good effort; we just didn’t get it done” said disappointed fifth-year coach Tim Place.
“We tried to make it just another game because that’s what it was,” he added.
Maybe it was a precursor of things to come from the outset. Chowan began its inaugural drive by fumbling the ball away on just their fourth snap. Fortunately, the Vikings couldn’t capitalize.
Shaking off the effects of that miscue the Hawks came back and put together a three-play, 80-yard drive on their next series, resulting in six.
Stover passed to Antjuan Randall in ECSU territory, but he fumbled. An alert Elliot Smalls, trailing on the play, was able to snag the loose pigskin and didn’t break stride as he rumbled to the end zone for Chowan’s first and only lead of the day, 7-0.
Elizabeth City State would shake off the early Hawks score by coming back to post one of their own.
Former Northeastern High School star and Division-II All-American running back, Daronte McNeill, capped an 83-yard drive with a four-yard plunge for a score and the point-after kick made it, 7-7.
Misfortune struck Chowan once more as they began their third drive of the day. Just beyond midfield, the Hawks fumbled again, this time scooped up by the Vikings who ran it back for a touchdown and the lead.
Elizabeth City came back to score once more in the first quarter when former Hertford County High star Petey Boone ran in a draw-play from 19 yards out, but the kick failed and it was 20-7, Vikings.
After the Hawks’ defense held on downs on ECSU’s first possession of the second half, Stover engineered his second successful drive of the day.
Starting at the Viking 33-yard line, Chowan needed just three plays before Stover hit Nolan from 29 yards out on a fly pattern and he streaked in for the Hawks’ second touchdown of the day. Alex Noboa’s kick left the Hawks trailing by six, 20-14.
The game played like a stalemate for the next three possessions, with neither team able to mount a successful drive. But with less than four minutes until halftime, the Hawks were victimized by the big play.
Viking quarterback Namon Jones struck for an 85-yard sideline bomb in one play and the point-after made it 27-14 entering intermission.
Chowan tried a key play just before the half on a halfback option. But the officials blew the play dead before it could be set up. That left Chowan down by 13 at the break.
Both teams started the second half with penalties on drives before Chowan’s second drive stalled and the big-play rose up to bite the Hawks again.
The culprit was another Viking one-play bomb, this one for 78 yards, and a lead of 33-14 after a failed two-point conversion.
From there Chowan never crossed midfield for the rest of the quarter. Tougher still was another fumble deep in their own territory that ECSU turned into six more points and a 40-14 lead entering the fourth.
Elizabeth City added one more score following a Chowan interception before Stover was relieved under center by former Gates County High QB Graham Hobbs.
Hobbs mainly handed off to Smalls before striking with a 15-yard scoring pass to Nolan and a final Noboa kick made for the 26-point Viking win to claim first-place in the CIAA-North.
“We knew with their offense that we weren’t going to shut nobody down,” said Viking coach Waverly Tillar. “But big plays and defense was what set the tone for today.”
“We’ve got to regroup,” said Place. “We’ve got to find a way to come back and have a good week and refocus; and we better get it right, or we’ll get beaten by Virginia State.”
Chowan falls to 4-4 and 3-2 in the CIAA-North. Saturday the Hawks travel to Ettrick, Virginia to meet the Trojans with a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.