CU football: the thrill returns
By most standards, a 6-4 season in the world of collegiate football would leave the majority of that team’s fan base hanging their collective heads in shame.
That record, under normal circumstances, also causes a head coach to realize he has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
However, six wins in a single season at Chowan University is cause for celebration and perhaps a contract extension for head coach Tim Place.
The Hawks Nation stands proud at the close of the 2012 season. Six wins in a single year equals the number of victories we posted in the previous two seasons combined (identical 3-7 records in both 2010 and 2011).
The 2012 campaign not only produced the first-ever winning season since Chowan moved to four-year status back in 1993 (the previous best mark was 5-5), but we also finished at 5-2 in conference play (4-1 in the Northern Division of the CIAA). Not bad for a team that was picked to finish near the league’s cellar.
It’s very apparent, at least to this proud Chowan alum (class of ’73), that our once-storied football program (as a two-year school) has turned the corner as a four-year university. We can no longer be considered as the league’s doormat, the team everyone else pencils in as their automatic homecoming game opponent.
This year’s 6-4 campaign saw the Hawks, for the very first time, outscore their opponents over a stretch of 10 total outings (328-268). Again for the first time we also produced more total yards (4,307-4,058) than our foes in 10 games.
From 2005 through 2011, Chowan’s football teams combined to win a grand total of 14 games. Over that stretch, we were outscored to the tune of 2,768-1,407. That included an embarrassing winless (0-10) season in 2006 where we scored a grand total of 73 points…..that’s a shade, on average, of just over a touchdown and extra point per game.
In 2012, that per game scoring average stood at 32.8 points. We set a single-game school scoring record by hanging 70 points on the board vs. Livingstone in the season-opener back on Sept. 1 and scored 30 or more points in four other contests, including a 49-35 shootout win at Shaw on Sept. 22.
Chowan may have the best 6-4 team among the nation’s NCAA Division II squads. If you break it down even further, this club had all the ingredients to win nine games. Had starting QB Cameron Stover not suffered an injury before halftime of the Sept. 15 home opener vs. Shorter (a 28-17 loss), CU had that game in hand. Were we supposed to beat the likes of VMI? Of course not, but Chowan had a 17-14 second half lead in that Sept. 8 game before falling 24-17. And the Oct. 6 Bowie State game is one that got away. We rallied from a double-digit deficit to take a 31-28 lead before Bowie hit one big play in the final minute to beat us by four.
The only game where Chowan was soundly defeated was a 47-21 loss at Elizabeth City State on Oct. 20. It seems ECSU has our number each year. I feel we can match them talent wise, but struggle from the neck up.
The 2012 season for the Hawks will serve as a springboard for years to come. Winning breeds winning and it also sets the table to improve the caliber of the student-athletes coach Place can and will bring into this program.
The thrill is back inside James G. Garrison Stadium. We want to see the program mature to the level where 6-4 seasons are not cause for celebration.
Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 252-332-7207.