NORFOLK, Va. (Spartan Athletics) - Aaron Savage tied his career high with 112 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns, and Norfolk State pulled away with a strong second-half performance to top Virginia State 34-13 in the Union Bank & Trust Labor Day Classic on Saturday night at William "Dick" Price Stadium.
Savage caught a 30-yard touchdown pass in the first half and helped seal the game with a 19-yard TD run in the fourth for the Spartans (1-0), who outscored the Trojans (0-1) 17-0 in the fourth quarter to break the game open.
VSU started quickly, taking the opening kickoff and driving 74 yards in 13 plays for a score. Cordelral Cook capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to TreQuan Reed with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
NSU tied the game just more than four minutes later when Savage hauled in 30-yard TD pass from Carter on a 3rd-and-11 play. Savage tip-toed the sideline in the end zone, keeping his feet inbounds as he fell to the ground and caught the throw from Carter.
Josh Nardone booted a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter, his first of two in the game, to send NSU into the half with a 10-7 lead.
The second half was controlled by the Spartans. Four plays after NSU lost Carter due to an ejection, backup quarterback D'Andre Thomas threw a 15-yard TD pass to Chuma Awanna at the 6:10 mark of the third, giving the Spartans a 10-point cushion.
VSU crept back with 17-13 on Cook's 3-yard TD run on 4th-and-goal with 2:25 left in the third.
But the Spartans were dominant in the fourth quarter. Nardone capped a 10-play drive with a 24-yard field goal to extend NSU's lead to 20-13 early in the period. NSU forced a turnover on downs on the Trojans' next drive when safety Bobby Price batted down a fourth-down pass by Cook.
NSU then drove 58 yards in eight plays, all on the ground, for an insurance score. Cameryn Brent darted through the defense for a 17-yard TD run with 3:52 to play to put the Spartans ahead 27-13.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, NSU safety Nhyre' Quinerly picked off Cook for the second time. It took NSU just five plays to score again, all runs by Savage. His 19-yard TD burst with 41 seconds left put him over 100 yards for the second time in his last three games.
NSU outgained the Trojans 361-267. Savage ran the ball 24 times for 112 yards and caught two passes for 30 yards. Awanna had a game-high 77 receiving yards on four catches.
Carter was 15-of-27 for 185 yards in less than three quarters of work.
NSU held the Trojans to 82 rushing yards on 27 carries and forced four turnovers. Quinerly intercepted two passes and Nigel Chavis recovered a fumble. Linebackers Quintreil Chung (12) and Dale Craig (nine) paced the Spartans in tackles.
The Spartans are home again next week when they host James Madison, last year's FCS national runner-up, at 6 p.m. at Dick Price Stadium.