St. Anne’s-Belfield outlasts NSA

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s football team produced a strong performance to return to .500 in the regular season finale last week, booking its return ticket to the postseason, and it produced a strong performance on Friday night, but not for all four quarters.

The No. 4-seeded NSA Saints managed to create a very different game against host No. 1 St. Anne’s-Belfield School on Friday night compared to the one that took place between the two teams earlier this season at Nansemond-Suffolk. The earlier game ended with a 61-6 win for St. Anne’s.

Friday’s rematch in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state semifinals was far closer, but still ended with a win for St. Anne’s, 40-24.

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“They’re a good football team, and we didn’t play well enough to stay with them for four quarters,” NSA coach Lew Johnston said.

Nansemond-Suffolk junior running back Noah Giles got his team on the board first via a 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Senior fullback David Gough made it 8-0 with a two-point conversion.

But St. Anne’s-Belfield senior quarterback Lee Parkhill responded later in the quarter with a three-yard scoring run, then completed a pass to senior running back Jake Allen for a two-point conversion, tying the game.

Still in the first quarter, Parkhill also completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jalen Harrison and handed the ball off to junior wideout Kareem Johnson who scored a two-point conversion.

NSA responded when Giles ran for a 15-yard touchdown, and junior quarterback Noah Serianni completed an 8-yard pass to senior tight end C.J. Patterson for the two-point conversion.

It was 16-16 at halftime.

“We were playing extremely well,” Johnston said. “We certainly gave them a wake up call.”

The tide turned in the second half, however, as Nansemond-Suffolk’s defense began to waver with poor tackling and penalties. Parkhill had more time to make plays.

“We’d gotten real good pressure on him in the first half,” Johnston said. “They did a better job protecting him in the second half.”

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy finished the season with a 5-6 record. Reflecting on the season, Johnston said it was disappointing, but acknowledged that injuries played a big role in it.

He gave special credit to players like sophomore linebacker Ke’Shaun Moore and junior tight end/defensive tackle Jack Johnson who pushed to come back from major injuries.

“I give the kids a lot of credit,” he said. “They bounced back.”

Overall, though, Johnston said his players are too smart to continue making the errors that put them behind in games this year.

“We’ve got to correct all these mental mistakes,” he said.