Warriors take regional championship

Published 7:39 pm Saturday, November 25, 2017

Nansemond River High School advanced to the Class 5 state semifinals after an exciting overtime win over Salem High School on the road Friday night. Once again, the Warriors high powered rushing attack and stingy defense propelled them into the next round of the playoffs.

In the first quarter, the Warriors were moving the ball on the ground. They got a first-quarter touchdown by JaQuelle Harrell to go up 7-0. In the second quarter, speedster Kevin Johnson got it going for the Warriors. He took a handoff 60-plus yards up the field for a touchdown to put Nansemond River up 14-0. Nansemond River was trying to control most of the second quarter before a Salem rushing touchdown put the game at 14-7 right before the half.

Salem came out in the second half and quickly tied the game up at 14 on their first possession of the second half. Like the Warriors in the first half, Salem broke off their own 60-plus-yard play. On the following possession, return specialist Rashaad Williams had a nice return for the Warriors to set them up with good field position. Kori Riddick completed a pass to first team all-district tight end Cameron Stitmon, which set up a Gerard Stringer score. The score put the Warriors up 21-14 with 8:54 left to play in the third quarter.

Email newsletter signup

Nansemond River went into the fourth quarter holding onto its seven-point lead. However, the fourth quarter proved to be the most exciting quarter of the night for both teams. Salem started to gain some momentum throughout the fourth quarter and started to mount a comeback. The Warriors were trying to control the clock with less than a minute to go in the fourth.

A fumble changed the Warriors’ plans to run the clock out for a victory. Salem recovered the fumble and instantly put points up on the board with 22 seconds left to play. The score tied the game up at 21-21, and both teams started to get ready for overtime.

To start overtime, Salem had possession first and scored on a five-yard run. The Sundevils were setting up to kick the extra point and go up seven on the Warriors, but Gerard Stringer denied Salem that opportunity as he blocked the extra point.

Salem then held a 27-21 lead in overtime with Nansemond River setting up for their possession. Harrell’s second touchdown of the night and an Evan Lomax extra point gave the Warriors the win.

“We are the 5A champions, and this is an exciting time for the kids,” Warriors coach David Coccoli said. “There are four teams left now, and we are glad to be one of them.”

They have now advanced to the Class 5 state semifinals and are a game away from the Class 5 state championship game. They are also the only football team left in the playoffs from Suffolk.

“We are honored to be the last Suffolk team in,” Coccoli said. “I think it says a lot about our kids and our program. These kids have never played a game in December, and now we will be.”

Nansemond River will now go on the road to face Highland Springs High School, with the date to be determined.

Nansemond River 28, Salem 27 OT

Nansemond River 7 7 7 0 7—28

Salem 0 7 7 7 6—27

NR—Harrell 20-yard run (Lomax kick)

NR—Johnson 65-yard run (Lomax kick)

S—Black 8-yard run

S—Black 65-yard run

NR—Stringer 5-yard run (Lomax kick)

S—Williams 5-yard run

S—Williams 1-yard run (kick blocked)

NR—Harrell 3-yard run (Lomax kick)