Norfolk Academy comeback drops Saints

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, October 11, 2008

NORFOLK – Norfolk Academy took sole possession of first place in the Tidewater Conference football standings with a dramatic 20-14 victory on Saturday afternoon over visiting Nansemond-Suffolk.

D.J. Covington’s 64-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the game gave Norfolk Academy its first lead of the game. The 6-foot-6 junior wide receiver had two of his three receptions of the day go for touchdowns.

Saturday’s contest pitted the last two undefeated teams in TCIS play. NSA drops to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference. Norfolk Academy is 4-0 in the TCIS with a game against Norfolk Christian now left to claim the championship.


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The Saints had two big chances to score turned away during the game. The first being in the first period, on NSA’s second possession of the game, after J.R. Crowder’s fumble recovery on a Bulldog running play set up NSA on the NA 25.

An NSA gain, which would’ve set up a first down inside the 10, was called back for a holding penalty. Facing 3rd-and-12 after the flag, NSA was stopped on downs.

NSA drove 96 yards on its next time with the ball to take the lead. After running the ball out from the goalline, Hunt Odom and Isaac Ballou connected for a 70-yard touchdown pass.

Odom lofted a pass down the left numbers, Ballou came back to the ball to make the catch, broke a couple tackles, then sprinted away from the rest of the Bulldog defense. Scott Guter kicked the extra point to make it a 7-0 NSA lead with a minute to go in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs responded with a march which included two fourth-down conversions. NA made a 4th-and-7 play from the NSA 30, then facing 4th-and-goal from the 14, William Scott lobbed a pass into the end zone and Covington was there to come down with it. NA missed the point after, leaving NSA up 7-6.

The score remained 7-6 through the remainder of the first half. Interceptions by Brian Franklin and Ballou stopped Bulldog trips into NSA territory during the last five minutes of the half.

NSA’s next good opportunity for a score came after the Saints surprised the Bulldogs with an onsides kick, and Ryan May’s recovery, to get possession at the NA 40 at the start of the second half.

With Crowder carrying four straight times, the Saints moved to the NA 6. The Bulldogs dug in against NSA’s running game from there, eventually bringing up 4th-and-goal from a foot out. Crowder tried to move the pile on a run up the middle, but the Bulldogs held.

Field position stayed in NSA’s favor though. NSA’s next possession started at the NA 48. A 28-yard gain on a reverse to Ballou set up a 16-yard run, a sweep around the right side, by Kenny Rice for a touchdown. Another kick by Guter made it 14-6 NSA with 2:41 left in the third period.

Early in the fourth period, a NA drive inside the Saints 10 ended with Ballou’s second interception of the game. NSA couldn’t move the ball on its ensuing possession though, and NA’s comeback started on its next possession.

Taking over on the NSA 28, NA needed four plays to score. A 14-yard run by Scott made it 14-12 NSA. The Saints denied the two-point conversion to keep the lead with 5:25 left.

Despite the time left on the clock, NA tried an onsides kick and NSA’s Baron Goodman recovered the kick at midfield.

An 11-yard run by Will Crenshaw saved a 3rd-and-7 and kept the clock toward three minutes left.

On the next play, Crowder broke through to inside the NA 10 before a holding penalty was the second such call to bring back a key gain for the Saints. Instead, NA held the Saints, forcing a punt and taking over at the NA 27 with 1:52 left.

On the third play of the drive, Via, who had thrown one pass, an interception, in the game prior to taking over at quarterback on the last-minute drive, and Covington turned in the game-changing play. Covington, with a four-inch height advantage over Ballou who was trying to cover him, went over Ballou to make the catch and when Covington got away from Ballou, no one was behind him to make a tackle.

NSA’s final possession started on its own 20. Odom completed passes to Ballou and Michael Coburn to reach the NA 39 with 0:23 left, but an interception by Jimmy Brewbaker on an Odom pass over the middle ended NSA’s last chance.

Odom was 7-for-16 passing for 124 yards. Ballou caught five passes for 105 yards. Crenshaw led NSA on the ground with 51 yards on 14 carries.