DOVER, Del. (NSU Sports) – Freshman quarterback Juwan Carter passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns, a pair of second-half strikes to sophomore Chuma Awanna, and the Spartans pulled away for a 17-7 win over Delaware State in their MEAC opener Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
The Spartan defense recorded three sacks and three interceptions, none bigger than sophomore safety Bobby Price’s diving pick of DSU quarterback Jack McDaniels in the end zone with 4:48 left in the game that all but sealed the victory for NSU (1-3, 1-0 MEAC).
Awanna caught TD passes of 8 yards from Carter in the third quarter and 16 from Carter in the fourth, NSU’s first two offensive TDs of the year. The second gave NSU a 17-7 edge with 11:25 left in the game. Trailing by two scores, the Hornets (0-4, 0-2) drove 73 yards in 13 plays deep into NSU territory. But Price intercepted McDaniels in the end zone to end the threat.
DSU got the ball back once more after an NSU punt, but turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Spartans to run out the clock.
Both teams had success moving the ball in the first half, but failed to find the end zone. NSU scored the half’s only points on the final play of the second quarter, capping a 17-play, 78-yard drive. After the Hornets tackled NSU fullback Larry Bishop just shy of the goal line, NSU was forced to spike the ball on third down with no timeouts left. That set up Josh Nardone’s 19-yard field goal at the first-half horn, giving NSU a 3-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The Spartans kept that momentum going into the second half. A 38-yard Marcus Taylor kickoff return to start the half gave NSU great field position. Nine plays later, Carter hit Awanna on a slant for an 8-yard TD play to push the Spartan lead to 10-0.
The Hornets cut their deficit to 10-7 after blocking an NSU punt and taking over at the Spartans’ 18. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Nyfease West’s 2-yard TD run on a fourth-down try gave the Hornets life.
But Carter then directed NSU on a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive to answer the host’s score. Carter accounted for all the yards on the drive, passing for 67 and running once for three yards on the march. He hit receiver George Wahee for a 30-yard gain and tight end Anthony Williams for 26 to get NSU into the red zone. Carter then found Awanna on a 16-yard TD play, a corner route that put the Spartans ahead 17-7 with 11:25 left.
NSU held a 345-226 edge in total offense. Carter was the story, playing every snap for the first time after splitting snaps the first three games. He completed 28 of 46 passes for 292 yards – all career highs – without an interception. He connected with eight receivers. Taylor had a career-high nine receptions, while Wahee, Williams and Awanna added four receptions each.
Aaron Savage led the ground game with 11 carries for 45 yards.
Defensively, Chris Lee had two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. In addition to Price’s interception, Nigel Chavis and Quintreil Chung also made momentum-changing interceptions for NSU.
The Spartans have a week off before hosting Florida A&M at Dick Price Stadium at 2 p.m. on Oct. 7.