Saints earn share of title

Published 11:34 pm Friday, November 6, 2009

For the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Saints the play on fourth-and-goal from their own inch line was not a play that would have changed the outcome of the game.

The play on fourth-and-goal was for pride and to prove they could and would stop their opponent from scoring a touchdown Friday night.

They did stop their opponent – the Hampton Roads Academy Navigators – on that fourth-and-goal midway through the fourth quarter, further preserving a 28-3 win that clinched a share of the Tidewater Conference title and the right to host a first round playoff game next Friday night.

The Saints will likely welcome Portsmouth Christian to Suffolk in a rematch of a game played Oct. 9 in which NSA won 14-7.

Friday night’s victory gives the Saints a regular season record of 7-3, but it did not come as easily as the score may indicate.

On their second drive of the game the Navigators took advantage of an early, slashing running attack that caught the NSA defense off guard.

Hampton Roads drove the ball 43 yards on seven plays – all on the ground – to set up a 45-yard field goal attempt by Marshall Babley. The attempt barely surpassed the crossbar, giving the Navigators an early 3-0 lead with 4:54 remaining in the opening quarter.

“Even though it was a good night, we have still go to be able to get our guys to play all four quarters,” NSA head coach Kevin Allen said. “When we are playing at our best we are hard to beat, but early on, we were not at our best.”

It was not until midway through the second quarter that the Saint defense and offense began to click.

With 8:45 remaining in the half a host of NSA defenders blocked a Navigator field goal attempt. Saint lineman Sean Buttery then picked up the ball and returned it all the way to the Hampton Roads 35-yard line before being tackled.

Six plays later, running back Kenny Rice rushed straight ahead for a 3-yard touchdown run with 6:49 to go in the half. The extra point attempt failed, but the touchdown gave the Saints their first lead of the game.

The Saints defense forced a Navigator fumble on the very next possession giving the offense great field possession at the Hampton Roads 29-yard line. The fumble was forced and then recovered by Saint defender Thomas Westfall.

NSA would capitalize on the turnover six plays later when quarterback Domonique Lennon rushed in from five yards out for a touchdown. The two-point attempt was good giving the Saints a 14-3 lead with 3:35 left in the half.

The Saints would score on their first possession of the second half, driving 66 yards on 11 plays. The drive was capped off by Ryan May who plunged in from three yards out. The extra point attempt by Bobby Lamm was good, leaving the score 21-3 with 6:19 to go in the third quarter.

NSA’s final score of the evening would again be set up by a Navigator turnover, this time on a mishandled punt.

Held on third down, NSA punted from the Hampton Roads 47-yard line in an attempt to pin the Navigators deep in their own zone. But, Ty Smith mishandled the punt, fumbling it down at the 1-yard line where it was recovered by NSA.

On third and goal from the 1-yard line, May again scored. Lamm added the extra point ending the scoring at 28-3.

Senior tailback Will Crenshaw was injured in the first quarter of the game and did not return to play. Information on whether he will be able to return for next week’s game was not available.

Overall, the Saints generated 262 yards of total offense with 157 of that coming on the ground. Hampton Roads was limited to just 177 yards of total offense with 139 of that generated through the running game.