Redshirt senior quarterback Chris Walley passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Norfolk State (NSU) defense held Morgan State (MSU) scoreless in the second half to lead the Spartans to a 47-14 win on Nov. 12 at Hughes Stadium in Baltimore, clinching the Spartans’ Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) football title and a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff berth.

MSU, which had an outside chance at sharing the title, finished the season 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

The 22nd-ranked Spartans (9-2, 7-1 MEAC) secured the school’s fifth conference football title of any kind, and the first since the 1984 team won the last of the program’s four Central Interscholastic Athletic Association (CIAA) titles in Division II. NSU also won its ninth game of the year Saturday, second-most in school history behind the 1984 team, which finished 10-2.

The Spartans also secured the MEAC’s automatic berth in the 20-team Division I FCS playoffs, which begin on Nov. 26. NSU has a bye week next Saturday, the final week of the regular season, before learning its playoff fate on Sunday, Nov. 20.

NSU led just 20-14 at halftime, but scored 17 points in a four-minute span early in the third quarter to pull away. Junior running back Randy Maynes gave NSU some immediate breathing room on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, bursting through the middle of the defense for a 56-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans a 27-14 lead. NSU never surrendered their comfortable lead from that point, scoring 20 more points before the game ended.

“I’m so proud of our players right now for working as hard as they have and making history like this,” NSU head coach Pete Adrian said. “The chemistry on this team is great. They’ve been a special group to coach. All they talk about is winning, not about personal goals.”

Redshirt senior linebacker Onyemechi Anyaugo led the NSU defense with 11 tackles, including one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup. Redshirt senior linebacker Corwin Hammond added nine tackles and recovered a fumble, and redshirt junior linebacker Jamal Giddens had seven tackles, four for loss, including a career-high three sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. Morgan State junior running back Travis Davidson finished with 74 yards and a touchdown, while freshman quarterback Seth Higgins passed for 131 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

 

Matt Michalec

Special to the AFRO