Chargers still bound for playoffs

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Suffolk Chargers’ wide receiver Walter Boykins fights for more yardage after a reception against the Portsmouth Mustangs on Saturday at Dré Bly Field in Virginia Beach. The Mustangs won 26-22, but the Chargers finished the season 5-3 and play in the first round of the playoffs this coming Saturday.

Suffolk Chargers’ wide receiver Walter Boykins fights for more yardage after a reception against the Portsmouth Mustangs on Saturday at Dré Bly Field in Virginia Beach. The Mustangs won 26-22, but the Chargers finished the season 5-3 and play in the first round of the playoffs this coming Saturday.

With a playoff spot already locked up, the Suffolk Chargers looked to pad their win column with a victory over the Portsmouth Mustangs in Saturday’s regular-season finale. Despite a solid defensive effort and some impressive rushing yardage on offense, the Chargers lost 26-22 at Dré Bly Field in Virginia Beach.

“I think the defense played well,” Suffolk head coach Anthony Waddler said. “They did what they could do (with) them being on the field most of the game, because the offense kept turning the ball over.”

Early on, the offense secured a 14-0 lead off a run up the middle by running back Antonio McCray and a two-point conversion off a successful pass from quarterback Kamron Bryant to wide receiver Walter Boykins.

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After that, though, the Chargers suffered from turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown in the final moments of the first half, followed by a two-point conversion that evened the score, 14-14.

A fumble helped lead to the Mustangs’ next score and a successful onside kick in the fourth quarter led to their go-ahead touchdown with 2:33 to play.

Despite the loss, McCray still exhibited the strong running game that the Chargers have at their disposal, piling up around 200 yards against the Mustangs.

“I just felt like I could do what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t enough to win, so I didn’t feel like it was anything to brag about,” McCray said. “I feel like we should have done it earlier, but I trust my coach, so he did the right thing. We just didn’t play for him. We came out over-confident, we knew we were supposed to beat that team, and we didn’t play together. So it kind of woke us up.”

He thanked those that made his yardage possible, giving “a shout out to my whole offensive line, especially (Savoye) Cherry, the center. He did his thing. The wide receivers blocked.”

Waddler praised Santonyo Jones, who was also dangerous out of the backfield, and he credited wide receiver Larry “Maxx” Williams for a good game, along with linemen Antoine Smith and Dion Artis and cornerback Andre Harper, who was a lock-down corner.

“No one caught a ball on him the whole game,” Waddler said.

Carlos Lawrence and Brandon Davis each snagged an interception.

The Chargers sit atop the Tidewater Division in the Atlantic Coast Football Association, and are the No. 3 seed in the American Conference playoff bracket. The first round is on Saturday when they will face a familiar opponent, the Fredericksburg Bears. The Chargers hosted the last meeting, which they lost 21-0.

McCray said putting the focus on the team rather than the individual will be a key to victory.

“I trust my teammates, so I feel like we should be able to win, and if we practice like we want to play, then I’m pretty sure we’ll win easy,” he said. “I don’t put opponents down, but I don’t think there’s anybody that can compete with us as far as talent-wise. So, if we put our heads together and decide to play as a team, I don’t think we’ll lose.”

Waddler described how the Chargers have developed since the April 13 shutout loss to the Bears, noting an increased commitment from players, who have work schedules and other obligations to navigate.

“We’re more focused,” he said. “We’re practicing a whole lot more, we’re getting more guys to practice. The Bears should never have beat us the first time at all. I think that was the worst our team ever played, and I guarantee we’re not going to play like that this time.”

The Chargers (5-3) will face Fredericksburg on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dré Bly Field.