Story and photo courtesy of Norfolk State Athletics
NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk State defense dominated from start to finish in Saturday’s Virginia Lottery Labor Day Classic, notching the Spartans’ first shutout since 2001 with a 24-0 victory over Virginia State before 24,322 fans at Dick Price Stadium.
NSU (1-0) won its seventh straight over the Trojans (0-1) by holding the visitors to just 107 yards of total offense. The Spartan defense registered 17 tackles for loss, seven sacks and four takeaways to notch NSU’s first shutout in 116 games. Senior linebacker Jamal Giddens was the catalyst, tallying seven tackles, 4.5 for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles despite missing much of the second half due to cramps.
Giddens helped create the Spartans’ first touchdown. With NSU leading 3-0 and VSU backed up deep in its own end, Giddens sacked Trojan quarterback Jarred Battle and knocked the ball loose. Freshman defensive lineman Shawn Fauntleroy recovered the fumble in the end zone, and the point-after gave NSU a 10-0 lead with seven seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Neither team scored in the second quarter, but the Spartans wasted little time adding to their lead in the second half. Marcus Cooperwood returned the third-quarter kickoff 70 yards to the VSU 18. Five plays later, freshman Brendon Riddick scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 2-yard run, and the extra point pushed the Spartans’ lead to 17-0.
After forcing a punt on the Trojans’ next possession, the NSU offense put together its best drive of the night. The Spartans marched 77 yards in 11 plays, capped by a 10-yard Takeem Hedgeman scoring run, to all but put the game out of reach.
The only question left was whether NSU would get its first shutout in 11 years. The Trojans reached NSU’s 34-yard line with their final drive of the night, but freshman linebacker Deon King snuffed out the threat with a fourth-down sack. It was one of King’s two sacks and five tackles.
In addition to Giddens’ big night, King, Lynden Trail and Eric Hitch all finished with three tackles for loss apiece. Lineman George Riddick had two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Fauntleroy, Mike Privott and Terrence Pugh all recovered fumbles, and Cooperwood had an interception.
VSU finished with 36 rushes for 10 yards and its two quarterbacks completed 7-of-17 passes for 97 yards.
The Spartan offense finished with 340 total yards of offense, 223 rushing and 117 passing. Brendon Riddick had nine rushes for 87 yards and Hedgeman had 12 carries for 73 yards. Flores completed 13-of-24 passes for 93 yards. Six of his completions went to senior wideout Xavier Boyce.
The Spartans hit the road for their next game, a 7 p.m. matchup with Liberty of the Big South Conference next Saturday in Lynchburg, Va.