ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Greg Hankerson scored the go-ahead points on a 4-yard touchdown run with 10:58 left in the game, and Norfolk State cornerbacks Sandy Chapman and Harry Freeman intercepted passes in the final seven minutes to lead the Spartans to their first-ever win at South Carolina State, 13-10, on Saturday afternoon.
The NSU defense was the story. The Spartans (3-7, 2-5 MEAC) intercepted three passes and held the Bulldogs (3-6, 3-3) to just 162 yards of total offense to earn NSU’s first win at SCSU in 10 tries. SCSU did not convert a third down, going 0-for-12 in those situations.
NSU controlled much of the game statistically, but SCSU was right in it till the end. The Bulldogs converted two NSU turnovers into 10 points and clung to a 10-6 lead entering the fourth quarter. SCSU had the first possession of the final period, but after seven plays that lost a net of 1 yard, the Bulldogs punted from their own 15.
NSU took over the ensuing possession at its 48. Wideout Marcus Taylor opened the drive by going over a Bulldog defensive back and snaring a 34-yard reception to put the Spartans inside the SCSU 20. Three plays later, Hankerson scored on a 4-yard keeper to put the Spartans ahead 13-10.
SCSU took the following kickoff and drove to the Spartans’ 22. The Bulldogs tried a trick play, but NSU was not fooled. Quarterback Caleb York threw a lateral to Dewann Ford, who was under heavy duress from the Spartan pass-rush. Ford threw the ball up for grabs into the end zone and Chapman intercepted it.
Taking over possession with 6:16 left, the Spartans set out to milk the clock. Hankerson rushed for three first downs and SCSU used all three of its timeouts to stop the clock. The Spartans punted and the Bulldogs took over with 1:29 left on their own 13. But on the very next play, York threw into coverage and was intercepted by Freeman, ending SCSU’s chances.
The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on Dondre Brown’s 1-yard TD run. The score came on the very next play following Phillips Henry’s interception and 57-yard return.
NSU chipped away with two Cameron Marouf field goals. He booted a season-long 41-yarder with 12:59 left in the second quarter, and opened the scoring in the third quarter with a 38-yarder at the 12:08 mark.
Just more than six minutes later, Tyler Scandrett connected on a 23-yard field goal for the Bulldogs to make the score 10-6. The field goal was set up by Paul McKeiver’s fumble recovery at the Spartans’ 20.
But SCSU managed just 58 yards of total offense on their final four possessions, the last two of which ended in turnovers.
NSU limited the Bulldogs to just 98 yards rushing on 42 attempts, an average of 2.3 yards per attempt. Three SCSU quarterbacks – the starter Ford, York and Adrian Kollock – combined to complete just 7-of-22 passes for 64 yards and three interceptions.
Safety Brandon Walker and linebacker T.C. Livingston led the Spartans with eight tackles each. Livingston had 1.5 tackles for loss, while Walker had one hit for a loss and an interception. Chapman finished with six tackles (all solos) with two pass breakups, a forced fumble and his clutch interception.
Livingston, Cephas Harden, Chris Lee, Raynard Revels and Walter Brantley all finished with 1.5 tackles for loss for the Spartans, who had nine tackles for loss as a team.
Offensively, Hankerson led a balanced NSU ground game with 56 rushing yards and his sixth scoring run of the season. Gerard Johnson had 43 yards on seven attempts as NSU amassed 152 rushing yards. Hankerson also passed for 132 yards.
The Spartans conclude the 2016 season next Saturday with the annual Battle of the Bay at Armstrong Stadium in Hampton. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.