A state title – for Shores

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2002

For the Nansemond-Suf-folk Academy football team, something had changed for its state title game against Atlantic Shores on Friday night; the uniforms. Because the Seahawks were the state’s top-ranked Division Two team, they were the home team, even though the game was played at NSA. When Atlantic Shores defe-ated NSA 35-7 two weeks ago, the Saints were wearing the dark uniforms; Friday night, they were in white.

Unfortunately for the Saints, the two games had something in common – the result. The Seahawks scored two touchdowns in 1:52 in the first quarter and never looked back on their way to a 34-7 victory and second consecutive state title.

Kirk Belgrave took the opening kickoff to the Atlantic Shores 26, and the Seahawks began to fly. Chase Cowell, Danual Pierce, and James Whitehead rumbled 60 yards over the next eight plays, and quarterback Seth Richardson sneaked through for four more to reach the Saint 10. On the next play, Pearce took a pitchout around the left end, and charged untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 6:30 left in the quarter.

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Ryan Johnson brought the kickoff back to the Saint 27, but he fumbled on first down, and James Warnsing recovered for the Seahawks. Richardson hit A.J. Slone at the five, and Whitehead carried the ball in from three yards out. Richardson headed up the middle for the conversion, and the Seahawks had a 15-0 advantage.

Adam Keeling tossed a 17-yard pass to John Tuttle for the Saints’ first first down at their own 26, and Tuttle carried the ball to the 37 two plays later. The Saints got to the 43, and then tried a trick play.

Keeling took the snap, and pitched to Johnson. As the Seahawk defense closed in, Johnson lifted a pass to Hunter Richardson, who raced to the Seahawk 16. Keeling ran to the seven, but misfired on the next two plays, and the ball went over on downs.

The Saint defense held, and got the ball back on the Seahawk 37. Keeling ran up the middle for two yards, and a face-mask penalty netted five more. Johnson then clipped off 14 yards to reach the 16, and Keeling hit Jordan Webb on the left sideline at the 7. Johnson weaved his way through the Seahawk defense on the next play, not stopping until he crossed the goal line. With 9:40 left in the half, the Seahawks were up, 15-7.

The Seahawks were held to two yards on their next drive, and Keeling hit Johnson with a 32-yard strike to reach the Saint 43. David Forest intercepted Keeling two plays later, but Webb snatched a Richardson pass to get the ball back at the Saint 45.

Neither team threatened for the next four minutes, but Richardson nailed Josh Vittletoe with a 37-yard pass at the Saint 21 with 1:40 left. Richardson misfired on his next three passes, but he hit Belgrave for a 12-yard gain on fourth down, giving the Seahawks a first down at the Saint five. A false start penalty moved them back to the 10, but Chris Antoine hauled in a pass in the end zone for a 21-7 halftime lead.

Keeling seemed to have the Saints on the move to start the second half, charging 36 yards on the first four plays. A face mask penalty moved the Saints to the Sehawk 41, and Hod Verble chewed up eight yards. Johnson managed one yards on third down, but the Seahawks were called for another face mask penalty, moving to the 17. But Vittletoe intercepted Keeling on the next play, and the Saints never threatened again.

Whitehead bolted 10 yards to the Seahawk 42 to start the fourth quarter, and he and Pearce notched 12 yards over the next three plays. Slone caught a pass at the Saint 39, and Whitehead raced through the Saint line for a touchdown on the next play, upping the lead to 27-7.

After the Seahawks got the ball at the Saint 43, Richardson hit a wide-open Antoine over the middle for the final touchdown.

Still, the Saint defense refused to quit. Apollo Hall snatched up a Keeling fumble and raced 58 yards to the Saint two. But NSA buckled down and knocked the Seahawks back 15 yards as the game and the season came to a close.