Warriors pass, run to biggest victory in years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 5, 2002

In their victories over Churchland and Lakeland these past two weeks, Nansemond River outscored its opponents 68-21, with all nine of their touchdowns coming on the rush. But for the first half of their 59-0 rout of host Oscar Smith on Friday night, the Warriors (3-2, 2-0) tried a new weapon: the pass.

&uot;They had eight, nine people on the line,&uot; said Nansemond River coach Brian Maus. &uot;They were setting up for the run, but we knew (quarterback Dominic) Strand could throw.&uot;

The senior Warrior proved his passing prowess throughout the first half, completing four passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns as the Warriors marched to a 35-0 halftime lead. The 59-0 victory was Nansemond River’s biggest since entering Triple A ball five years ago, and second-biggest of all time (the 1992 team defeated Bruton 62-0).

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When Joe Morris returned the opening kickoff 47 yards to the Warrior 39, it looked as though the Tigers might take a quick lead. Little did anyone know, it would be their biggest gain of the night by 20 yards.

The Warrior defense held the Tigers and got the ball on their own 36. They stumbled at first, having to scoop up two of their own fumbles on their first five plays. But Trayce McPherson charged 21 yards for a first down on the Tiger 25.

After a penalty pushed the team back five yards, Strand tossed a 30-yard strike to Terrell Artis, and the Warriors were up early.

The Tigers could only manage a single first down, and the Warriors took over at their own 25 with 4:10 left in the first quarter. A 26-yard pass from Strand to Dontra Artis moved them to the Tiger 44 with three minutes left, and Dominic Scott rushed to the 41 on the next play.

On third down, Strand took the hike, and appeared to attempt a handoff to Mcherson. But the rusher was out of position, and Strand was left alone in the backfield. Rather than throw the ball away, he bolted around the left end, down the sideline, and didn’t stop until he scored Nansemond River’s second touchdown.

Once again, the Warrior defense held and got the ball back, this time at their own 46 with 18 seconds left. McPherson and Brandon Barnes rumbled to the Tiger 22 as the quarter ended, but a holding penalty knocked the Warriors back to the 31. But Strand hit a wide-open Terrell at the seven on third down, and Artis shot across the goal line for another score.

Terell nearly scored again less than a minute later, when he intercepted an Ocie Hendricks’ pass (the first of five Warrior interceptions on the night) and appeared to run it in for a touchdown. But the Warriors were called for clipping, and Strand fumbled the ball away with 9:51 on the clock. The Tigers got as far as their own 29, but had to punt again, and the Warriors grabbed possession at their own 40 with 5:31 left.

McPherson, Barnes and Scott ran the team to the Tiger 38, and Strand sneaked up the middle for nine yards on the next play. But his next pass fell short, and a delay-of-game penalty gave the Warriors a fourth-and-six on the 33.

On fourth down, Strand faded to his right, where three receivers were heading downfield. As the Tiger line closed in, he suddenly turned and threw a screen pass to Dennis Conley on the left sideline. The 6’4&uot; Conley used his long strides to outrun the Tiger defense, and the score was 28-0.

The Warriors still weren’t finished. The Tigers got a first down on their own 33 with 39 seconds left, and Hendricks faded back to pass on second down.

He attempted a pass to Bobby Ford at the 43, but Terrell broke in front of Ford, picked off the pass, and shot back down the sideline for his team’s fifth and final touchdown of the half.

The Warrior defense had been strong in the first half, holding the Tiger offense to 34 yards. But in the third quarter, it put on one of the most domineering displays in Southeastern district history. The Warriors snatched two interceptions and recovered a fumble, allowing the Oscar Smith offense only nine plays in the entire quarter.

McPherson returned the opening kickoff 23 yards to the Warrior 39, and a 21-yard pass from Strand to Conley got Nansemond River to the Tiger 27 with 8:31 left. After another delay-of-game penalty, McPherson scampered around the right end for a 32-yard touchdown.

Three plays later, Chris Hardy ripped the ball from Tiger quarterback Greg Boone’s hands, and four more runs by McPherson scored another touchdown with four minutes left

Trayson Jordan pulled down another interception on third down, but a clipping penalty pushed the Warriors back to their own 48 with 2:58 left. Four plays later, McPherson (who finished the night with 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns) charged around the left end to score again, giving his team a 56-0 lead.

James Capehart pulled down another interception with 17 seconds left in the quarter, and the Warriors were off to the races again. Barnes bolted 63 yards to the Tiger five, but the drive stalled there, and kicker Travis Hoegh finished off the scoring with a 30-yard field goal.

In the end, the Warrior offense outgained its opponents 507-74. As icing on the cake, Jameal Calhoun hauled in his team’s fifth interception on the game’s final play.

Now, the Warriors look to their biggest challenge yet: Deep Creek. The Hornets, who defeated the Tigers last Saturday, finished third in the Southeastern district last season, and want to go higher this year.

&uot;This was great,&uot; Maus said to his team, &uot;but you can’t be satisfied yet. You’ve got the biggest game of the season at our house next week, and the Hornets are coming after us.&uot;