Warriors pull off the win
Published 12:20 am Saturday, October 25, 2014
The Nansemond River High School football team let visiting Hickory High School stick around on Friday night, but the Warriors ultimately showed the hard-playing Hawks the door, handing them a 21-17 defeat.
“We won, so that’s the important part,” NR coach David Coccoli said. “That game could have gone the other way real easily, and we came up with the plays we needed. We have to cut out the mistakes.”
He estimated the Warriors had around 170 yards in penalties. Nevertheless, they piled up 260 yards of total offense.
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Nansemond River junior running back Terrence Lambert, returning from injury, gave his team a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on an eight-yard touchdown run.
Warriors senior quarterback DeShon Saunders connected with junior wide receiver Josh Covington in the second quarter on a 43-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead.
The Hawks got on the board to make it 14-7 at halftime. They closed it to 14-10 in the third quarter after a drive that was sustained by a surprising call and penalties on Nansemond River.
Warriors senior defensive back Antonio Sims recovered an apparent fumble on the drive and ran it back to the Hickory nine-yard line, but then officials ruled the Hawks player had been down.
Following this, Nansemond River was called for a facemask penalty (15 yards), defensive pass interference (15 yards) and unsportsmanlike conduct (15 yards) that resulted in a Warriors player being ejected.
Coccoli disagreed with the ejection and felt the officials were having an off night.
Warriors junior receiver Chris Henderson made it 21-10 when he caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Saunders in the third quarter.
Hickory scored its final touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull back within four.
“We made some youthful mistakes, and we let a team stay in the game, and they played their butts off,” Coccoli said.
But a big play that helped secure the win for the Warriors came when freshman kicker Evan Lomax had a punt downed at the Hawks’ 3-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Despite throwing an interception in the second quarter, DeShon Saunders had a great night, on offense and, for the first time, on defense.
“He’s been begging, and I finally agreed,” Coccoli said, after putting him in at outside linebacker.
Saunders was 4-for-8 passing for 100 yards and two touchdowns, with the interception. Lambert carried the ball 15 times for 115 yards and a score. Henderson had two catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Giving an appraisal of his 4-4 squad at this point in the season, Coccoli said, “For a team that’ll return 17 starters next year, we’ve had some baby steps, but I feel like we’re coming along.”
Nansemond River hosts Western Branch High School next Friday night.