Nansemond River falls to the Braves
Published 10:10 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2015
By Matthew Hatfield
Special to the News-Herald
The Nansemond River Warriors participated in a rare Tuesday night football game in Chesapeake against the Indian River Braves, who started the season 4-0 and were in position to end the 77-game regular season Southeastern District winning streak of Oscar Smith until a 59-yard punt return with 25 seconds left resulted in their first loss of the season.
Email newsletter signup
Coming off a heart-breaking loss of their own, 28-26 at home to Western Branch last Thursday, the Warriors were hoping to spring what many would consider an upset but quickly fell behind and could never quite catch up in falling to Indian River, 41-13.
“We had a slow start, they jumped on us quick and we made some mistakes. A good football team capitalizes on those,” remarked Nansemond River head coach David Coccoli.
Things did not go well for Nansemond River on the game’s opening possession. On the third offensive play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Kiere Landry’s pass was intercepted by Braves linebacker Tavante Beckett. The Virginia Tech commit returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, putting the Warriors in a 7-0 hole only 1:39 into the contest.
Facing a third-and-32 on the next series, Nansemond River’s defense appeared primed to get off the field with good field position, but multiple missed tackles allowed the Braves to move the chains with a 33-yard gain off a screen pass.
Marquis Braimer’s pass breakup in the end zone on the next third down kept the Braves from scoring a touchdown as they settled for a 39-yard field goal. However, two more Indian River touchdowns and a field goal from 42 yards out increased the deficit to 27 points.
With 1:12 to go before half-time, the Warriors finally got their offense going with a 12-play, 77-yard drive. It was capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Landry to sophomore Gerard Stringer to trim the deficit to 27-6.
Stringer also was a factor on defense with three tackles, a sack and a couple of quarterback hurries.
“He did a good job and I thought [Demetrius] Stitmon had a really good game,” Coccoli added. “I thought they played well.”
It was a penalty-filled first half with the two teams combining for 17 infractions for 151 yards. The Warriors were whistled for six penalties, costing them 40 yards.
Down 34-6 at intermission, Nansemond River played a spirited third quarter, where they gained 86 yards and limited the opposition to a loss of 14 yards. The highlight play was a leaping 42-yard touchdown catch by Braimer from Landry, who finished 13 of 34 with 136 yards passing.
“In the second half, it was 7-6 and we probably out-gained them. We played real well defensively in the second half and we fought hard in the second half, so I was pleased with that,” commented Coccoli.
“We just need to put it all together and play four quarters. It’s the same thing we did against Western Branch. We outscored them the second half but started slow.”
A couple of seniors, Chris Henderson and Colby Williams, made key contributions. Henderson caught a team-high five passes for 43 yards, while Williams was in on six tackles defensively and deflected a pass.
The Warriors managed to out-gain Indian River 143-63 in the second half, a noticeable improvement from when they were out-gained 137-13 in the opening stanza.
It’ll be a quick turnaround for Nansemond River, now 3-3 overall, as they play host to winless Great Bridge (0-6) at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday.
“We’ve got a few guys banged up, so we’ll just do the best we can,” Coccoli said.