NSA falls to Christchurch

Published 7:59 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saints sophomore Addison Peak cuts around First Flight defense during NSA’s season opener last week. NSA was defeated by Christchurch School on Saturday. The Saints are now 0-2 and will face Norfolk Christian on Friday.

It all came down to a single play for the visiting Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Saints on Saturday, and it did not go their way, resulting in 27-26 defeat to Christchurch School.

“(We) scored with about two minutes left and went for two,” Saints coach Lew Johnston said, “and the kid was easily in the end zone, and they ruled he didn’t make it.”

Christchurch led 27-20 with about four minutes remaining when the Saints got the ball back.

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“I just told them, ‘The last drive, we got to score to tie and win,’ and we go right down the field,” Johnston said. “I mean, we looked like the New England Patriots executing.”

David Gough contributed two huge runs that created momentum.

“David Gough, fullback, ran hard,” Johnston said, “and then Ryan McClain scored, and I said, ‘We’re going for two.’”

Johnston said the decision was an easy one for a variety of reasons, including extra point issues in both games this season.

“Wasn’t any question about it,” he said. “We had already missed two extra points before, so I wasn’t going to try that again.”

Jacob Laine took the ball from just over five yards out, but could not convince the officials.

“The coaches in the box said he was in,” Johnston said, “the kid himself said, ‘I was in by a yard,’ and they marked it down on the one-foot line.”

In a much different game from the one last season, when Christchurch posted a 33-0 win, the Saints started quickly, up 14-0 at halftime.

The running game was a key part of NSA’s success, accounting for 247 out of their 328 yards of offense.

Gough rushed 20 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns. McClain had 59 yards on 12 carries, and Addison Peak racked up 48 yards in his second game ever.

Johnston liked a lot of what he saw, but he saw room for improvement. Thrilled with his team’s final drive, he emphasized after the game that they should not have waited until the end to do it.

“Maybe that was the drive now to get it turned around for us,” he said, “because again, (we were) very sporadic offensively.”

The defense turned in a strong half, but struggled in the second half.

“Defensively, the first half, we looked great, and then the second half, we stopped tackling,” Johnston said. “Same thing as last week— we’re hitting, going to our knees, and nobody’s there to gang-tackle him, and they’re going down the field after the first hit.”

Despite the execution issues, this game helped prove something to Johnston about this year’s Saints that was quite positive.

“I told the kids, we give a great effort,” he said. “I have no qualms with how hard our kids play. They are going to give a hundred percent every play.”

The Saints (0-2, 0-0) will have another opportunity to turn that effort into a win next Friday when they continue on the road against Norfolk Christian.