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Nansemond Suffolk starts TCIS play with 43-0 win

NORFOLK – Nansemond-Suffolk opened its bid to repeat as Tidewater Conference football champions on Saturday night at Norfolk’s Powhatan Field with a thorough 43-0 defeat over Norfolk Christian.

The Saints made big plays offensively, defensively and on special teams against an Ambassador squad in its first season, and second game, as a football member of the Tidewater Conference. NSA finished the night with 254 rushing yards, an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and holding Norfolk Christian to six first downs in the shutout.

“That was just the way we need to play, as far as the physical part of the game,” said NSA head coach Monroe Wells.

“We need to take advantage of that each week. Our offensive line opened a lot of good holes tonight and the running backs hit it hard.”

“Then when (Norfolk Christian) put eight guys up in the box, Hunt (Odom) hit some big passing plays. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

The difference in physical play up front was clear from the first quarter on. After quickly stopping the Ambassadors to open the game, the Saints took over in good field position and a six-play drive ended with J.R. Crowder scoring from one yard out. Runs by Isaac Ballou and Kenny Rice were key during the drive.

Norfolk Christian’s next possession ended at the NSA 49 when, on 4th-and-1, Harrison Levin and Crowder stuffed an Ambassador play in the backfield.

Rice raced around the right end and down the sideline for 45 yards and two plays later, Crowder went in from two yards out. Mike Bradshaw, who was 5-for-5 on extra points, made it 14-0 NSA with 4:34 to go in the first period.

Following NSA’s second touchdown, the Ambassadors had one good chance to make a game of it. Thanks largely to a 52-yard scamper by quarterback Deonte Lathan, Norfolk Christian moved to 1st-and-goal at the NSA 8.

NSA forced the Ambassadors to 4th-and-goal from the 4. On Norfolk Christian’s attempt to go for it, the Ambassadors tossed a swing pass around the left end only for NSA cornerback Codi Oliver to deliver a big hit and break up the pass.

In the closing seconds of the half, Odom and Ballou connected on passes of 17 and 21 yards to move inside the NC 10. Rice finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run through the right side of the line with 13 seconds left.

The Saints finished any thoughts of a turn in momentum in the second half within 16 seconds. Ballou received the second-half kickoff, followed a wedge of Saint blockers to the NSA 35, then sprinted practically straight down the center of the field for an 87-yard touchdown.

Crenshaw added touchdown runs of 7 and 20 yards in the second half. Crenshaw also had an interception in the second quarter. NSA forced two more Ambassador turnovers, an interception by Ballou and a fumble recovery by Levin, in the second half to preserve the shutout.

“Like I told them after the game, we found our identity tonight. This is the most physical we’ve been this year,” said Wells.

Defensively for NSA, Christian Upchurch had two sacks and the Saints held the Ambassadors to -9 yards in the second half.

On offense, Odom was 5-for-7 passing for 78 yards. Rice led the running game with 11 carries and 114 yards. Crowder finished with 68 yards and Crenshaw had 60 yards.

NSA (1-2, 1-0) continues in the TCIS on Saturday at Bishop Sullivan Catholic at 12:30 p.m.