The College’s football team traveled to Christopher Newport University this, where the College edged out its opponent with a score of 21-19 during Christopher Newport’s Homecoming game. The game marks the College’s third win of the season and the second time it spoiled an opponent’s Homecoming.
The Lions defense forced several early three-and-outs. On Christopher Newport’s fourth drive, the Lions defense faced with a fourth-and-2 on Christopher Newport’s own 12-yard line. In a failed attempt to make a statement early in the game, Christopher Newport elected to go for it on the fourth. The Lions stood strong, forcing an incomplete pass and giving their offense the ball from a turnover on downs.
Junior offensive lineman Ryan Signora thought the defensive stops were highlights of the game.
“They were huge,” Signora said. “The defense really set the tone as to how we wanted to play early on. They were absolutely relentless from start to finish. They played a great game.”
The Lions offense scored three plays later. Senior quarterback Trevor Osler threw a spiraling pass to senior wide receiver Gabriel Rios for an 8-yard touchdown. Senior kicker Zachary Pharo kicked the extra point through the uprights to put the Lions ahead at 7-0, midway through the second quarter. Christopher Newport answered the Lions touchdown by kicking two field goals before halftime to make the score 7-6.
The Lions came out in the third quarter determined to score. The team received the kickoff and advanced 67 yards in five plays to score a touchdown. Osler was involved on the score again, throwing a 25-yard reception to senior wide receiver Thomas Koenig. Pharo then made the extra point, putting the Lions in the lead at 14-6.
The team scored again eight minutes later, when Osler threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jack Clevenger.
Osler completed 15 passes for 146 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
All of the Lions’ scoring drives were shorter than two minutes and 30 seconds. Signora believed this was the key to victory.
“It was important to capitalize on opportunities that were given to us,” Signora said. “A lot of those came in the form of quick strikes that we could hit and turn into good gains. Trevor and our receivers seemed to be in synch and they did a great job of keeping the chains moving for us. When they finally got the shot to turn a quick strike into a touchdown, they followed through and made some big plays to score.”
The Lions ground game was solid as well. Led by senior running back Khani Glover, the Lions ground attack did enough to keep the rest of the team ahead of the chains, totaling 68 yards that day.
Glover totaled 90 yards, marking a season-high for him. Signora felt that Glover did his part to help the Lions win.
“Khani was an absolute beast in this game,” Signora said. “He was a physical downhill runner who refused to go down on first contact. There were points that he truly seemed unstoppable, and it was amazing to see.”
The Lions offense totaled 214 yards in the game. Compared to Christopher Newport’s 390 yards of total offense, the Lions’ totals may not look as impressive, but the devil is in the details. Penalties played a huge part in the game.
Christopher Newport had 10 penalties for 105 yards, nearly doubling the six penalties that the Lions had for 48 yards. The Lions also defense forced three fumbles, recovering two.
Christopher Newport managed to score with two seconds left in the game.
The Christopher Newport offense rushed back to the line for a two-point conversion, but the Lions defense stepped up. They attempted to pass the ball for the conversion, but Lions defense was all over the play, causing the ball to fall harmlessly to the ground.
On the ensuing kickoff, Clevenger recovered the ball, sealing the game away for the Lions. Even with the game so close, Signora felt the Lions were in control throughout the game.
“Toward the end of the game they started to make a comeback but we never lost faith in ourselves and our teammates,” Signora said. “We fully believed that we had what it took to finish the game with a W. Although it might’ve been more thrilling that we thought it would be, that’s what ended up happening.”
Sophomore defensive back Xavier Santos, junior linebacker Max Busca and senior defensive lineman Shane Kelley were all standouts who led the Lions to victory. Each player had 10 tackles. Santos also had a tackle for loss. Busca had 3.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and also forced two fumbles. Kelley had two tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
The Lions are now 3-5 in NJAC play, which is good for seventh in the conference standings.