HAMPTON, Va. (Release via NSU Athletics) | Otto Kuhns threw touchdown passes of 41, 38 and 9 yards as the Norfolk State University football team got into the win column and continued its road winning streak in the Battle of the Bay with a 31-23 victory over Hampton on Saturday night at Armstrong Stadium.
With the win, Norfolk State (1-1) has now won four straight road games over its rivals and spoiled Hampton’s home opener with the victory.
“This was a great team win and I am extremely proud of our football team for bouncing back after last week’s loss,” Norfolk State head coach Dawson Odums said. “We had a good game plan going in and I thought our defense played well on those final two drives. We aren’t where we want to be, but we are getting better. We made adjustments from week 1 to week 2 and I thought they showed. Now we will celebrate this and start preparing for Temple.”
After forcing a punt on Hampton’s first drive, the Spartans went 80 yards in four plays, taking just 2:18 off the clock.
Aaron Moore caught a pass from Otto Kuhns, who went 2-for-2 on the drive and sprinted 41 yards down the right sideline for the touchdown as NSU grabbed a quick 7-0 lead with 10:54 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Pirates started moving the football toward the end of the first quarter and appeared to score the tying touchdown on third-and-goal, but a penalty negated the score. Hampton got a 21-yard field goal by Tristan Heaton completing a 9-play, 67yard drive as the Pirates cut the NSU lead to 7-3 with 14:57 remaining in the first half.
Hampton (1-1) grabbed the lead with 8:50 left in the second quarter.
The Pirates used 2:04 off the clock, marching 63 yards in just four plays with Zellous tossing a 28-yard scoring strike to TK Paisant, but the extra-point attempt was no good as HU held a slim, 9-7 advantage.
Norfolk State took advantage of a short field after a Hampton punt, going 38 yards on three plays as the Spartans took a 14-9 lead with 3:29 remaining.
Xzavion Evans did the bulk of the work on the scoring drive with runs of 11 and 25 yards as Mohamed Nyanamukenga punched it in from the Hampton 2.
On Hampton’s next drive, the Pirates moved the ball to the NSU 29, but Zellous’ pass was intercepted by Kameron Lewis at the Spartans’ 3-yard line, ending the scoring threat with 49 seconds remaining in the half.
With neither team getting much going offensively in the third quarter, Norfolk State took advantage of another short punt, starting at the HU 38.
NSU offensive coordinator Ray Pickering dialed up a trick play as the Spartans extended the lead to 21-9 with 7:17 left in the period. Kuhns handed the ball off to Lex Henry, who tossed it back to Tremayne Talbert, who quickly dished it back to Kuhns, who found a wide-open Jayden Homuth open down the left sidelines for the 38-yard score.
Norfolk State continued to build on the momentum as HU running back Darran Butts fumbled the ball at the Pirates 20 and was recovered by AJ Richardson.
The Spartans turned the fumble into three points as Grandin Willcox booted a 33-yard field goal, pushing the Norfolk State lead to 24-9 with 5:07 remaining in the quarter.
Hampton went back to the ground game on its next drive with three runs of 10 or more yards and Zellous connected with Paisant for 18 yards, capping a 75-yard drive in seven plays and cutting the deficit to 24-16 with 1:47 left.
After Norfolk State turned the ball over on a botched snap on a field-goal attempt, Hampton continued to go to the ground.
However, Elijah Burris broke through the Spartan defensive front and was hit by Keshawn Lynch, forcing the ball free and Terron Mallory picked up the loose ball at the NSU 42 and returned it 52 yards to the HU 6 with 11:27 remaining.
Norfolk State cashed in the turnover two plays later as Kuhns connected with Talbert on a 9-yard slant for the touchdown as the Spartans extended the margin to 31-16 with 10:36 left.
The Pirates answered with a 5-play, 75-yard drive as Butts busted through the middle of the NSU defense, trimming the deficit to 31-23 with just over eight minutes to play.
The Norfolk State defense sealed the victory with less than two minutes remaining when Joseph White picked off Zellous at the HU 19. The Spartans ran out the clock to give NSU the victory.
CHECKING THE BOX SCORE
- Norfolk State finished with 340 total yards of offense, including 199 yards through the air
- The Spartans registered 12 first downs
- Xavion Evans led the ground game with 82 yards on 10 carries, averaging 8.2 yards per touch
- Otto Kuhns went 15 of 20 passing for 199 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception
- Aaron Moore caught four passes for 67 yards, including one score
- Noah Tracey punted the ball five times for 213 yards, with a long of 54 yards
- Robert Rhem paced the defense with seven total tackles, with five solo stops
- Joseph White added five tackles and an interception
- Hampton finished with 435 total yards, including 224 yards on the ground
- The Pirates registered 19 first downs
- Elijah Burris tallied 137 yards on 12 carries
- Chris Zellous went 14 of 26 passing for 211 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions
- Paul Woods caught four passes for 60 yards
- Tristan Heaton punted the ball six times for 185 yards
- Qwashin Townsel recorded 12 total tackles, with six solo stops
NEWS & NOTES
- Kickoff for the Battle of the Bay was delayed by a half hour due to the lightning
- Saturday’s game marked the 64th meeting in the series history
- The Spartans extended the all-time lead in the series to 32-29-1
- NSU has now won four straight road games at Hampton (last road loss was 2012)
- The Spartans are 6-2 under head coach Dawson Odums when leading at halftime
- In addition, NSU is 8-3 under Odums when entering the final period with the lead
- Dawson Odums improved to 2-1 over Hampton
- Norfolk State won the turnover battle
- In back-to-back games to begin the season, Norfolk State has scored on its opening drive of the game
- The 41-yard touchdown pass from Kuhns to Moore in the first quarter was the longest TD score for NSU since the end of the 2022 season against South Carolina State
Norfolk State continues its three-game road swing as the Spartans visit Temple next Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. This will be the first meeting between the two teams.