Football comes home with victory over TCNJ

The Captain’s defense proved too much for the Lions, earn 17-6 win

The Homecoming magic was in the air for the Christopher Newport Football team. Earning their second conference victory against the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in front of a robust crowd of students, parents and alumni, Football increased their record to 2-5 (2-2 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference).

The first drives of the quarter set the tone for the match, highlighting the defensive efforts of both sides. The Captains received the ball first in the quarter, but were unable to sustain a drive and quickly punted it to TCNJ. 

The Lions were similarly unsuccessful in their offensive efforts and halfway through the first quarter, the ball was punted back to the Captains. This next drive was a well-orchestrated effort by Quarterback #12 Jack Anderson. 

In just ten plays the Captains marched 80 yards highlighted by two passes from Anderson to #14 Garrison Mayo and #19 Leland Girdy for 17 and 19 yards respectively. 

Anderson capped the drive with another pass to Girdy for a 13-yard touchdown.

TCNJ kept the game close, responding quickly with a two minute scoring drive of their own. Quarterback #3 Andrew Donoghue torched the Captain’s defense with two consecutive passes longer than 30 yards. 

The second pass, caught by #87 Vinny Guckin, was enough to put six points on the board for the Lions. Kicker #99 Bobby Wortman missed the extra point, however, and the first quarter ended with the Captains leading it 7-6.

The start of the second quarter was tough for Anderson and the rest of the offense. Anderson was sacked twice during the drive, the second of which put the Captains in a third and 21 situation. 

Mayo came up clutch for the offense, picking up 13 yards and putting them in range for a field goal attempt. 

Kicker #89 Dylan Curran’s foot was accurate, putting Christopher Newport up 10-6. 

A strong effort from the defense quickly yielded the ball back to the Captains, but a fumble by #25 Adam Luncher gave the ball back to the Lions with less than a minute left in the half. 

Three straight incomplete passes led to a field goal attempt by Wortman, but #10 Ben James leaped over the line to block the attempt, which was recovered by fellow defenseman #15 Jake Herzog. The crowd erupted in cheers, and the Captains went into halftime with all the momentum.

After a brief halftime show featuring the band, the crowning of the new Homecoming Royalty, Sean Celli and Destiny Coleman, and President Trible accepting an award for Christopher Newport having the highest winning percentage across all sports for the 11th straight year, the Captains were back on the field and ready for another half of football. 

During the third quarter both defenses settled into a rhythm, neither team allowing the other to gain a decisive advantage. 

The Lions were allowed just seven plays on their opening drive of the quarter before they were forced to punt, and the Captain’s previous momentum was brought to a halt and were forced to settle for a field goal attempt less than four minutes after they regained possession. Curran was less lucky with this attempt, as his kick was swatted out of the air by the Lions defense. 

TCNJ and Christopher Newport traded the ball back and forth for the rest of the quarter, but the field position slowly started favoring the Lions. 

Towards the end of the third quarter, this advantage paid off for them, allowing them to attempt a field goal of their own with less than a minute left in the quarter. 

Wortman’s woes continued, however, as his kick bounced off the bottom of the goal post for yet another miss on the day. 

The fourth quarter started similar to the previous ones, with neither team able to gain a decisive offensive advantage or even manage to string together more than a couple successful plays before being forced to punt again. 

Finally, with 1:35 left in the game, the Captains took over at the TCNJ 43 yard line. On the first play of the drive, the offensive line was able to open a small hole through the middle of the defense, and #3 Nehemiah Harris sped through the gap and towards the end zone for a touchdown. 

This score and the ensuing extra point effectively put the nail in the coffin for the Lions, who were unable to muster any energy on their final drive, resulting in zero gained yardage and a turnover on downs. 

The shutdown performance of the Captains’ defense was led by James, who in addition to his blocked kick participated in eight tackles, three of which were for a loss. He also led the team in sacks with 2.5 on the afternoon. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Harris’s highlight run for the touchdown capped his 14-attempt, 94 yard day, which is the most yards he’s gained in a single game this season. 

Quarterback Anderson had a stellar performance stats-wise, despite the low scoring game. He ended the day 20/21 for 186 yards and a touchdown, throwing to five different receivers. His six sacks were the one blight on the day. 

The 17-6 conference victory was a much-needed one for the Captains, who are currently 2-2 in conference games and sitting firmly in the middle of the pack of the NJAC. 

The end of their regular season schedule will be a challenge for the Captains to overcome, facing Salisbury University (6-0, 4-0 in conference) away, Rowan University (2-5, 2-2 in conference) at home and then finishing at Wesley College (6-1, 3-1 in conference). Salisbury currently leads the NJAC, with Wesley just one game behind them. 

The Captains will hope to ride the momentum of this victory and end the season with a positive win record in the conference.

~Matthew Scherger, Editor-in-Chief~

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