NORFOLK (NSU Athletics) – In the teams’ first meeting in Norfolk since 2017, Hampton broke free from a halftime tie by scoring the only 10 points of the second half to top Norfolk State 17-7 in a defensive Battle of the Bay before 15,459 fans on Saturday at Dick Price Stadium.

With the score tied 7-7, Pirate receiver Romon Copeland scored on a 75-yard touchdown reception on the Pirates’ first drive of the second half. HU (3-0) added a 24-yard Axel Perez field goal in the fourth while keeping the Spartans (0-3) at bay in their home opener.

Hampton struck first on its first possession of the first half, as well. After forcing an NSU punt, the Pirates drove 54 yards in six plays, taking the lead on a 23-yard TD pass from Malcolm Mays to Jadakis Bonds.

The Spartans answered with a 15-play, 90-yard drive to tie the game. Otto Kuhns found Da’Quan Felton on a scoring strike for the second straight week. Felton hauled in an 11-yard TD pass on a fade route, and Grandin Willcox’s PAT tied the game.

Hampton had two good chances to take the lead in the second quarter, but the Spartan defense stiffened. NSU linebacker Marquis Hall intercepted a Mays pass as the Spartan 32 with just under 10 minutes left in the period. The teams traded punts, and HU drove as far as the Spartan 10 in the final seconds of the half before Perez missed a 27-yard field goal on the final play before halftime.

It didn’t take the Pirates long to strike after the intermission, however. On the second play of the third quarter, Christopher Zellous hit Copeland with a short pass around the Pirate 34, and Copeland outran the NSU defense the rest of the way to complete a 75-yard touchdown just 46 seconds into the half.

The Spartans reached Pirate territory three times in the third quarter, but came up empty each time. On the first, a 52-yard run by tight end Ikeem Wright on a fake punt set NSU up at the Pirate 10. But Kuhns was intercepted three plays later. On their next drive, the Spartans were stopped on downs on an incomplete pass from the HU 22.

On the next Pirate possession, Spartan defensive back Joseph White intercepted Zellous at the Pirate 39 to give NSU good field position. But the Pirates held NSU three-and-out, forcing a punt.

NSU had two more chances in the fourth quarter. On the first, Felton caught a 7-yard pass but was stopped short of the line to gain at the HU 33, forcing a turnover on downs. The Pirates then drove 60 yards in 13 plays, with Perez putting HU up 10 with his 24-yard field goal with 4:04 remaining.

NSU drove near midfield on their next possession before backup quarterback Jaylan Adams was intercepted by Stanford Everett at the Pirate 12. That turnover allowed HU to run out the clock.

Hampton outgained NSU 332-271 in total yardage. Zellous passed for 155 yards and rushed for 62 in relief of Mays, who played the first quarter and a half. The Spartans held HU to just 92 rushing yards on 32 carries.

Kuhns passed for 121 yards and Adams 40 for NSU. Collis Pride had a career-high four catches for 47 yards. Davis, Felton and Tremayne Talbert caught three passes apiece.

Hall led the NSU defense with nine tackles and an interception. Fellow linebacker Tyler Long had seven tackles, one sack and a pass breakup.

The Spartans are home again next Saturday, hosting St. Francis (Pa.) in another non-conference matchup at 2 p.m.