Warriors lose a raucous gamePublished 12:49am Sunday, November 3, 2013
By Matthew Hatfield
The Nansemond River Warriors traveled to Chesapeake on Saturday night to take on the Western Branch Bruins at the Art Brandriff Sports Complex in a matchup between two Southeastern District teams with postseason aspirations.
In a wild, back-and-forth shootout that featured numerous exciting plays and some sloppy moments at times, where the two teams combined for 10 turnovers, the visiting Warriors came up short on the scoreboard, 63-28.
After trailing 21-0 in the first quarter, Nansemond River fought back valiantly in the second quarter. The Warriors’ first touchdown came on fourth-and-goal, when junior quarterback Jermaal Wells found senior halfback Latrell “Vegas” Sandifer for a touchdown on a slant pass from two yards out. The extra point would be blocked, and the Warriors remained behind 28-6, until midway through the second period, when things began to turn in their favor.
Mel Giddens made a tremendous leaping grab in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown reception. After tossing his second touchdown pass of the night, Wells converted the two-point conversion on a run to slice the Western Branch lead to 28-14. That would be the halftime score after a Warriors pass into the end zone with two seconds left was broken up by a Western Branch defender.
To start the third quarter, Nansemond River received the ball first and put together an efficient 11-play, 57-yard drive that came to a crashing halt when on a fourth-and-5 field goal attempt, Nansemond River got a bad snap that resulted in a seven-yard loss and no points.
A 45-yard touchdown run by Western Branch pushed the deficit to 21 points midway through the third quarter. Desperately needing a lift from their defense, the Warriors gave the home crowd a bit of a scare.
Junior defensive back Brandon Foye returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown to give the Warriors life. That trimmed the Bruins’ lead to 35-20, though the extra point would be blocked with 3:37 remaining in the third period. Nansemond River wasn’t done scoring, capitalizing on another Bruins turnover.
For the second time on the evening, Warriors senior defensive end Andre Butler recovered a fumble. Nansemond River’s offense rewarded its defense for coming up with a fifth takeaway when Giddens made a 22-yard reception over the middle, followed two plays later by a four-yard touchdown run from Wells. Terrence Lambert’s two-point conversion run was good, pulling the Warriors within seven, to 35-28 with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
Nansemond River got the ball back after their defense stiffened again and had a chance to tie the score early in the fourth quarter with a touchdown. However, four consecutive turnovers by the Warriors, all leading to Western Branch touchdowns, allowed the Bruins to extend their lead and gain some breathing room for the final margin.
On the night, Wells finished with eight completions out of 25 pass attempts for 170 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Sandifer ran for 87 yards on 16 carries. Senior linebacker Marvin Branch finished with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Now 3-6 overall, the Warriors wrap up their regular season at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday against Deep Creek (2-7), which has won two in a row.
Nansemond River entered Saturday night’s tilt at 14th out of 16 potential playoff qualifiers in the 4A-South bracket in the power ratings. A victory over the Hornets would secure them a postseason berth.