Hawks grab historic victory
MURFREESBORO – Earthquake.
If it hasn’t shaken things up, it’s at least a seismic shift – football-wise – in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).
Your usual top dogs don’t live here anymore. Or at least now they’ve got some company.
Chowan’s 27-3 win Saturday at James G. Garrison Stadium over league opponent Fayetteville State – the first in the school’s gridiron history – left the Hawks’ overall record at 3-2 midway through a season for the first time since 1999.
It also put them into a tie for first place in the CIAA Northern division with Elizabeth City State at 2-0; and it marked the first time Chowan’s defense had not allowed an opponent a touchdown since 2005.
How tenacious was the Hawks-D? They allowed just a single field goal from an offense that came in averaging over 23 points per game.
Junior Jason Ampy had 13 tackles while Anthony Joffrion and T.J. Batchelor assisted with 10 each. Batchelor also added two sacks in the contest, upping his season total to nine.
Do you feel the rumbling yet?
Junior quarterback Cameron Stover made the earth move on offense as he tossed a pair of touchdowns on 15-of-28 passing for 230 yards.
And the ground game wasn’t dominated by last week’s CIAA Player Of The Week, Tim Hanson, but instead it was waterbug-quick 5’-7” running back Elliot Smalls – playing bigger than his name implies – who ran for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Top receiver was once again sophomore Ryan Nolan who finished with 82 receiving yards and ran for a pair of scores.
“I said last week that we were in a unique position that a lot of other teams at Chowan haven’t been in since we’ve been a four-year school,” said smiling fifth-year coach Tim Place. “We’re fortunate and we’re blessed, but we realize it’s just halfway through the season and we can’t drink the proverbial Kool-Aid; we’ve got to worry about ourselves, take care of ourselves, and not get ahead of ourselves because if we do we’re going to lose focus.”
Saturday night the Hawks’ eyesight seemed to be dead-on 20-20 perfect.
Chowan’s first drive of the night stalled, but the second one was created when the defense blocked a punt. This one also stalled, this time in Broncos territory.
However, Chowan made quick work in the third in getting their first score. First Batchelor sacked FSU quarterback Chauncey Concepcion for a loss. Then a shanked punt started the Hawks on the FSU 38-yard line.
It took just three plays for Stover to find Nolan from 19 yards out for the game’s first touchdown and a 7-0 lead after Alex Noboa’s 22nd consecutive extra point kick.
“They were trying to blitz a lot so it left our receivers on an island man-to-man, so they were just getting open and making the plays,” Stover said. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers in this offense, and I’m just trying to spread the ball around as much as I can and get it in the hands of a playmaker.”
Fayetteville State was able to answer right back with a 45-yard field goal and the 7-3 score held through the first quarter.
Chowan opened the second quarter by completing a 95-yard drive begun at the end of the first. The big play in the drive was a 49-yard bomb from Stover to sophomore Antjuan Randall that got the Hawks inside the Bronco 30-yard line.
Stover finished it with a 10-yard swing pass to Nolan for the pair’s second scoring hook-up and Noboa’s kick made it, 14-3, with under nine minutes until halftime.
Fayetteville State even switched quarterbacks – to senior Andreas Hudson – but their in their final three drives of the quarter they punted twice and once the ball went over to Chowan on downs.
Both teams entered the locker room at halftime with the score still 14-3 and a light, misty rain beginning to fall.
After FSU missed a 44-yard field goal on their opening possession of the second half, Stover hit J.R. Williams on a 41-yard strike followed by a 25-yard run by Smalls to the red zone four-yard line. From there, on an end-around, Randall scampered in for the score and the kick made it, 21-3.
On Fayetteville State’s next possession, Batchelor and Aeon Blake split a sack of the Bronco quarterback and on the possession following that one, Blake recovered an FSU fumble.
On the Chowan drive it looked like Smalls would crest the century mark in rushing when he took off on a 56-yard jaunt to the end zone, but the play was nullified by a CU penalty that brought the ball back to the FSU 42-yard line.
Three plays later Chowan got their final score of the night as there were no flags this time and few defenders on a Smalls 17-yard run to paydirt; however, Noboa missed what would have been his 25th extra point in a row.
“I wasn’t that concerned about a hundred,” said Smalls, “I was more concerned we could run the ball in the rain, and I kept my feet up under me.”
“We showed up tonight, we played lights out, and I couldn’t ask for a better group,” said offensive lineman Nick Watts. “We did a good job; it feels good.”
The 27-3 mark held up through the third quarter and in the fourth frame the Chowan defense did not allow the Broncos to cross midfield.
“The D-line was doing their thing and the db’s were covering them (FSU receivers), so that made it easy,” Ampy said.
“Coaches coach, players play, and they went out and played,” said Place. “We weren’t perfect, but we were able to capitalize on their mistakes.”
Chowan hosts Bowie State in another CIAA match-up Saturday at Garrison Stadium. Kick-off is once again set for 6 p.m.