HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, VA-The 24th ranked Hampden-Sydney Tigers won their seventh consecutive home opener and did so in thrilling fashion, taking down the Captains of Christopher Newport 35-30 in a back-and-forth battle. The game had three ties and three lead changes, and it was the Tiger defense that came up with the big stop on fourth-and-ten in the red zone to clinch the victory.
Both teams' first drives were hampered by the rain, as each traded punts to start the game; it was the Tigers, though, who got moving first, driving deep into Captain territory. Hampden-Sydney drove to the CNU six-yard line, but a missed 23-yard field goal kept the game scoreless.
The Captains marched in similar fashion on the ensuing drive, but were kept out of the end zone with Josh Doggett (Mechanicsville, VA/Atlee), Benjamin Carson (Winston-Salem, NC/Mount Tabor), and Shreve Rohle (Mechanicsville, VA/Hanover) picking up consecutive tackles inside the five yard line. Mason Studer stepped up on fourth down to knock in a 19-yard field goal, giving the Captains the first lead with 2:22 to go in the first quarter.
Just before the end of the quarter, Studer drilled another field goal, this one from 43 yards out to give the Captains a 6-0 lead.
Hampden-Sydney's offense began to click in the second quarter, with the Tigers taking six plays to drive 65 yards. The seven point drive was capped off with Nash Nance (Calhoun, GA/Tennessee) hitting Joey Kernan (Derwood, MD/Gonzaga) for an 11-yard strike.
A Larry Haskins (Buckingham, VA/Fuqua) interception gave the Tigers the ball on the Christopher Newport five-yard line, setting up a Holton Walker (Lynchburg, VA/Brookville) six-yard touchdown catch, giving the Tigers a 14-6 lead with 5:33 to go in the half.
Christopher Newport tied the game at 14-14, as Cameron Siler ran in for a two-yard scamper, followed by a two-point conversion catch by Matt Kerr.
Despite having only three and a half minutes left, each team found the end zone one more time as Brady Macko (Kill Devil Hills, NC/First Flight) went 12-yards for pay dirt, and Marcus Morrast hit Rudy Rudolph with just 15 ticks on the clock to keep the game tied at intermission.
The Captains started the scoring in the third, using their second drive to go up 28-21 with Daquan Davis catching a ten-yard touchdown pass.
The lead was short lived, with the Tigers driving 75 yards and Joey Druhan (Purcellville, VA/Loudoun Valley) hauling in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Nance.
Another Haskins interception led to Druhan and Nance hooking up again for a ten-yard score, to give the Tigers the lead back – 35-28 – with 6:53 to go in the game.
The Tiger defense forced a Captain punt, but the offense was held in check on the ensuing drive. As Hampden-Sydney geared to punt with just under three minutes to play, a bad snap put the ball in the end zone, with the Tigers collapsing on the ball, forcing a safety and putting the Captains within five at 35-30 with 2:46 remaining.
Christopher Newport drove to the Tigers' 13-yard line, but Morrast threw four incompletions, with Freddie Potter (Haymarket, VA/Battlefield) and Rohle breaking up passes on third and fourth down to clinch the victory.
The Tigers racked up 358 yards of offense with 204 coming through the air and 154 on the ground. Nance was 23-of-31 on the day with 204 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed for 60 yards. Kernan caught a team-high six passes for 45 yards and a score. Walker had five catches for 38 yards and a score, and Druhan caught two touchdown passes on three catches for 42 yards. Owen Costello (South Riding, VA/Paul VI) racked up 108 all-purpose yards with 62 on kickoff returns, 30 receiving, and 16 on punt returns. Macko led the rushing attack with 71 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Christopher Newport's Rudy Rudolph led all receivers with nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Morrast was 19-of-34 for 233 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Tigers remain at home and return to action Saturday, September 20 as they host the Bears of the United States Coast Guard Academy. Kickoff is set for 1:00 pm.