The Defenders

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, October 3, 2017

CHARLOTTE – A 29-yard Conner Killeen field goal with less than three minutes left proved to be the difference as the Chowan University football team got a win to start three straight games on the road with a 10-7 win here Saturday over Johnson C. Smith University at the Irwin Belk Stadium Complex.

The win moved the Hawks to 2-0 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) cross-divisional play, and into a tie for first place in the CIAA Northern Division. The Golden Bulls remain winless at 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the league.

“We are 2-0 in the CIAA which is what matters,” said tenth-year head coach Tim Place.  “We win as a team, and as long as we have more points than the other team at the final whistle, that’s all we can ask for.”

As expected with so few numbers on the board, the Chowan defense was the story of the game. The Hawks allowed 100 total yards, second fewest yards allowed in program history.  Dre Terry paced the Hawks with a career-high 11 tackles and one-half sack.  The Hawks also tallied 11 tackles-for-loss totaling 61 yards.

100 total yards is also the fewest allowed on the road since 2008 against former CIAA opponent St. Paul’s College.  Chowan’s defense picked up five sacks on the afternoon for a loss of 46 yards.

Led by senior defensive end Nate Wyche, the Suffolk, VA product recorded a sack and a half in the contest, giving him 21.5 sacks for his career at Chowan, making him the all-time sack leader taking the top spot held by former Hawks All-American TJ Batchelor. Wyche now has eight sacks on the season.

“We are proud of Nate and what he’s been able to accomplish, added Place.  “Nate entered the program as a preferred walk-on and has worked extremely hard to place himself in this position.  He has earned everything with hard work and dedication,”

Offensively, Michael Offutt Jr rushed for 96 yards on 21 carries while Tyrell Freeman rushed twice for 30 yards. Quarterback Bryce Witt didn’t have his usual high-passing affair, managing only 69 yards through the air on nine completions.  Witt’s connection with Drew Buck on a six-yard out route accounted for the Hawks’ only touchdown of the contest.

Neither team was able to move the ball in the first quarter. On the second drive of the game Chowan’s Tyrell Freeman picked up a huge chunk of yards to get the Hawks to midfield, but on the ensuing play,  Witt was intercepted by the Golden Bulls looking for a shot down the right sideline. The Hawks managed 51 yards on the ground in the opening quarter.

Wyche was able to tie the school record for sacks in a career on the third play of the period as he got to quarterback Terrance Ervin for the 12-yard sack on third down and forcing a JCSU punt.

Chowan was able to get the ball past midfield but the drive stalled.  Connor Killeen pinned the Golden Bulls deep in their own territory as Killeen’s punt was downed at the one-yard line.

The Hawks’ second possession of the second quarter started near midfield as Chowan marched the ball towards the end zone. But a penalty and a sack forced the Hawks to settle for a field goal and Connor Killeen‘s kick was just wide on a 35-yard attempt. Meanwhile, Wyche found his way into the Golden Bulls back-field, sacking the JCSU quarterback and grabbing the program record 21.5 sack of his career.

The Hawks were able to gain some momentum late in the half as Chowan used a 10 play 61-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. Witt first connected with Aaron Matthews on strikes of 12 and 5 yards, then picked up 15 more yards on a scamper to bring the Hawks into the red zone.  Witt then found Buck in the corner of the end zone for the 11th passing touchdown of the freshman’s college career.

As the teams headed to the locker room, JCSU was held to a paltry 13 total yards for the quarter, while Chowan held a 7-0 lead.

JCSU came out of the locker room with momentum on a 14 play 74-yard drive that ate up the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter.  The Golden Bulls rushed for 63 yards on the drive and completed one pass as the completion was to JCSU’s Randy Wiley for the score, knotting the game at 7-all.

The two teams played for field position for most of the final stanza as the first five drives of the fourth quarter ended in punts.

On the sixth drive, the Hawks started with Offutt returning a punt for 15 yards to the JCSU 31. The Hawks drove to the JCSU 12, but the drive stalled.  Connor Killeen rebounded after missing his first FG of the game with a 29-yd attempt from the right hash.  The kick sailed through the uprights and gave the Hawks the 10-7 lead with 2:42 remaining in regulation.

A pair of Chowan stops on third and fourth down took the game to a JCSU punt at 1:54. Offutt then picked up a first down in the final drive allowing the Hawks to move into victory formation sealing the win.

Chowan continues their road swing as the Hawks travel north to face Bowie State on Saturday, Oct. 7 in Bowie, MD.

“All three phases have a lot of work to do as we prepare to play a nationally ranked team next weekend,” said Place.