The Wildcats got off to an uninspiring start and committed 5 turnovers (including 4 in the first half) in Saturday’s defeat. On the other side of the ball, Norfolk State started the game redhot and scored on its first 3 possessions.
The Spartans took the game’s opening possession 81 yards on 10 plays and scored on a 2 yard touchdown run by Rolandan Finch early in the 1st quarter. After a BCU three-and-out, the Spartans stretched their lead to 10-0 on a 43 yard Cameron Marouf field goal.
Bethune-Cookman’s offense showed some life on its second possession and easily sliced through the NSU defense needing only 2:48 to travel 72 yards to cut into the Spartan lead. Isidore Jackson scored on a 35 yard touchdown run up the right sideline after receiving an option pitch from quarterback Quentin Williams to reduce the deficit to 10-7. Jackson’s TD run pushes him to 3rd on BCU’s all-time rushing TD list
NSU’s offense seemed to stall inside the BCU redzone on the ensuing possession; however, 2 redzone penalties on 3 down extended the Spartan drive. Senior defensive end, Dyron Dye, was flagged for a roughing the passer call after the Wildcats stopped NSU on 3rd and 4 from the 12. 3 plays later Tim Burke was flagged for defensive pass interference after what would have been a 3rd and goal stop from the 5.
The drive finally ended with a 2 yard TD pass from Tyler Clark to University of Florida transfer and Miami native Lynden Trail.
Trail made his second impact play of the evening 3 plays later but this time while playing defense. The All-MEAC performer forced a fumble on an option pitch. Natturner Harris scooped the deflected pitch up and raced 31 yards to put ahead NSU 24-7 halfway through the 2nd quarter.
Trails was all smiles after the game. “We felt like they (BCU) kind of overlooked us and we felt disrespected. They were probably thinking about next week’s game or maybe even the playoffs. But we came in here tonight, got the victory, and proved that we are a good football team.”
“It’s a blessing that this game is on our schedule. My mother is here watching. I am 6 foot 7; I weigh 260 pounds but I am still my mother’s baby. She doesn’t like the contact part of the game because I am her baby but I am sure that she appreciated the touchdown.”
“I don’t even know how many family and friends I had here tonight watching (me) but it was a lot. I am just so proud of my teammates and my coaches. They (the coaches) gave us a good gameplan and we executed.”
While NSU’s offensivie execution may have been crisp in the opening half, BCU’s execution was anything but. The Wildcats turned the ball over on four of six first half possessions.
The Wildcats were able to put together a feverish fourth quarter rally but the comeback attempt fell just short. Nick Addison made what would have been the play of the game had the outcome turned out differently when he stopped Derrick Demps just shy of the first down marker, wrestled the ball away, and scampered 14 yards to make it a two possession game (27-13).
The Wildcats took over their next possession at the NSU 44 yard line. 4 plays later the Cats had it 1st and goal from the 1 but an illegal procedure penalty negated a touchdown and backed the Cats up to the 6. BCU was unable to punch it in on that drive and instead settled for a 23 yard Jonathan Cagle field goal to make it 27-16.
After forcing a NSU punt, Jontavious Carter hauled in a 61 yard pass from Jackie Wilson and Isidore Jackson’s 11 yard TD run capped a 2 play 72 yard scoring drive that took only 31 seconds on BCU’s ensuing possession. Brodrick Waters hit Justin Henderson on a short pass to complete the 2 point conversion attempt and cut the lead to 27-24.
BCU’s defense held the Spartans to what would have been a 3 and out and the Cats were set to take over possession at the NSU 44 yardline trailing 27-24 with over 3 minutes remaining and all the momentum. However, the Wildcats’ special teams unit was flagged 15 yards for a bizarre “snapper interference” call.
Norfolk State was able to essentially run out the clock after that call.
The Wildcats ended the contest with a dismal 15 penalties for 138 yards.
Jarkevis Fields registered 21 tackles while LeBrandon Richardson pitched in 15 of his own.
Norfolk State’s victory was the first for the Spartans in Daytona in 10 tries.