NSA falls by a point in season opener

Published 11:12 pm Friday, August 31, 2012

Saints senior quarterback Tim Burns hands off to sophomore full back David Gough during NSA's season opener against First Flight at Arthur E. Jones Field on Friday night.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy started out the 2012 season with a disappointing 14-13 loss to First Flight at Arthur E. Jones Field on Friday night.

First Flight’s running back Wyatt Robertson repeatedly cut into the Saints defense for big gains, finishing the game with 16 carries for 82 yards and both of his team’s touchdowns.

Saints coach Lew Johnston was upfront about what he was feeling after the game.

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“Disappointed,” he said. “I felt like we should have won. Just too many mental errors, poor tackling. Just the execution is not where it needs to be. I mean, you chalk it up to first game mistakes, but this is a veteran ball team. We’re doing things that we shouldn’t do.”

David Gough had a strong game with a 21-yard reception followed by a scoring run that tied the game up at 7 in the second quarter. He finished the game with 8 carries for 45 yards, but was hobbled by a couple of fumbles.

“He’s a big, tough kid and I felt bad he fumbled twice in the first half,” Johnston said. “I think that rattled him a little bit.”

Special teams and penalties kept the Saints alive at various points in the game.

After Gough’s touchdown, the Saints went for an onside kick and sophomore Addison Peak recovered it at NSA’s 40-yard line. This was Peak’s first game ever.

With less than two minutes to go in the first half, the Saints decided to go for it on 4th down. The pass was incomplete, but a pass interference call made all that go away and replaced it with an NSA first down on First Flight’s 16-yard line.

Unfortunately, the Saints’ execution problems haunted them again, and they turned the ball over on a fumble seconds later.

In the third quarter, with the score still tied 7-7, NSA came up with a strong defensive stand, but First Flight went for a field goal on 4th down. The Saints blocked and recovered the attempt.

After Gough rattled off a 13-yard run and Saints quarterback Tim Burns completed a 20-yard pass to Jared Morse, Peak carved out a 14-yard touchdown run.

Unfortunately, the score was marred by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was not due to a bad attitude but rather inexperience.

“Rookie scored, never played football before, didn’t realize in high school you can’t spike the ball like they do in the NFL,” Johnston said. “He had a great run. He didn’t know. He was excited. Anyway, I can’t fault him for that.”

The penalty pushed back the extra point, and the Saints did not end up converting.

In the fourth quarter, NSA’s 13-7 lead appeared vulnerable at times, but more than once they were given extra chances.

NSA was forced to punt early on, and it was returned for a touchdown. The score was called back, however, by a block in the back. Instead of a score, the ball was on First Flight’s 29-yard line.

This is when Robertson went to work along with A.J. Naranjo, who finished with seven carries for 53 yards. NSA forced a 4th down after First Flight had come within inches of the goal line, but the visiting team went for it and Robertson jogged in around the left side.

A First Flight false start supplied drama to the tie-breaking extra point, but they ended up converting despite the five-yard penalty.

NSA began to mount a huge drive with just under 4 minutes to go. Ryan McClain came up with huge runs and Tim Burns a clutch pass to John Mobley, but an interception with 40 seconds remaining ended the endeavor.

The Saints hit the road to face Christchurch School at 1 p.m. next Saturday.