Saints beat rivalPublished 12:43am Saturday, October 27, 2012
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy showed its playoff mettle by beating elite state rival Trinity Episcopal 22-14 in the Saints’ final home game of the season Friday night.
The Titans (6-3) started out driving down the field, but then they made a mistake, fumbling the ball that junior defensive end John Mobley scooped up and returned to just outside the Titans’ own 30-yard line.
Shortly thereafter, junior split end Michael Tyler Lepore made a short run for a touchdown, and sophomore fullback David Gough rushed for the two-point conversion.
Less than three minutes later, Trinity Episcopal responded with a long touchdown run from senior running back Bryan Black. A two-point conversion made it a tied game with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter.
“They’re a good football team,” Saints head coach Lew Johnston said. “Take nothing away from them. I know why they beat Christchurch last week.”
They struck again in the second quarter of a short run by Black, but their extra point kick failed. Still, they now held a 14-8 lead.
NSA senior quarterback Tim Burns was intercepted in the Saints’ next drive with less than two minutes to go in the half. The Saints defense returned the favor, however, with 54 seconds to go when junior defensive back Jared Morse intercepted junior quarterback Neeshant Parikh.
The Saints took over their ball at their own 40-yard line and drove down the field, fueled by huge completions from Burns to junior running back Matt Newhall and Lepore.
On third down with eight yards to the end zone, and 9.6 seconds to go, the Saints set up for a field goal. On the long snap count, they successfully drew the Titans offsides and then proceeded with their normal offensive set-up half the distance to the goal.
With no time left on the clock, Gough ran in the touchdown from a yard out and freshman running back Noah Giles added the two-point conversion to give the Saints the go-ahead score at halftime.
The Titans compiled 273 yards of total offense and showed the Saints they were in for a battle. But in the second half, that changed.
“Man, did the defense rise to the occasion in the second half because we were just getting gashed,” Johnston said. “Our kids, we call them the fire ants — they’re not real big, but we’ll sting you. As I said, we made some adjustments at halftime and the second half was just outstanding.”
Sophomore running back Addison Peak added the final score of the game late in the third quarter on a 10-yard run.
Overall, the Saints found running against the Trinity Episcopal defense more difficult, but not difficult enough to stop them.
“Their linebackers did a great job,” Gough said. “They were a very good job, but our line did a great job too.”
Gough would be hard-pressed to match his 283 rushing yards from last week, but he still led the team with 89 yards on 24 carries. Burns also had a very strong game passing, going eight for 12 for 92 yards. The Saints offense generated 309 yards total.
NSA’s playoff destiny will remain a mystery for at least another week.
“We won’t know anything when we come off the field next Friday,” Johnston said. “(We’ll) have to wait until the standings come out, but this certainly vaults us right up in there and we told them, ‘This is our playoff game.’”
The Saints (6-3, 3-1) close out the regular season on the road next Friday against Hampton Roads Academy.