There was a time when the Christopher Newport/N.C. Wesleyan football game would decide the USA South Conference champion.
Saturday’s game was part of the process of crowning a league champ, but only one team came into the contest with title aspirations.
That was Christopher Newport, and after its 17-10 victory against N.C. Wesleyan, the Captains are a step closer to securing a third consecutive USAS championship.
“Our expectations can’t be to become conference champs,” N.C. Wesleyan coach Mark Henninger said. “We’re relying on youth.”
With that said, N.C. Wesleyan (2-6, 1-4 USAS) played Christopher Newport toe-to-toe for most of the contest. The Battling Bishops were undone by three turnovers and the inability to finish drives early in the game that could have given them momentum.
They drove inside the Captains’ red zone on the first possession of the game, only to see a dropped pass, a sack and a missed field goal result in no points.
N.C. Wesleyan, which scored 32 points in the third quarter of last week’s victory against Greensboro, could not carry over its offensive momentum against Christopher Newport.
Senior John Jackson finished 24-for-52 for 334 yards, but the Bishops only were able to muster a touchdown in the final two seconds of regulation.
John Young paced the team’s receiving corps with six catches for 113 yards.
N.C. Wesleyan’s defense was consistent for 60 minutes. The Bishops, led by James Wallace’s 18 tackles (9 assisted, 9 unassisted), stopped the Captains on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with two minutes remaining.
Christopher Newport kept its 10-3 advantage when cornerback Tyshawn Harris picked off Jackson’s pass attempt at the 28-yard line.
The Captains tacked on a touchdown to seal the game. In the process, they broke a three-way tie for first place in the conference with LaGrange and Ferrum. LaGrange lost to Methodist on Saturday, and Christopher Newport holds the head-to-head advantage against Ferrum with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Henninger knows what it’s like to contend for NCAA playoffs, but for now, he’ll settle for watching the Bishops push the league’s best team for 60 minutes.
“Losing is never acceptable; we expect to win,” Henninger said. “But if our goal is getting better every day, then wins will come. This was a step in the right direction.”
Christopher Newport 17
N.C. Wesleyan 10
CNU 7 0 3 7 – 17
NCWC 0 3 0 7 – 10
CNU – Marcus Morrast 22 run (Mason Studer kick), 2:37
NCWC – Hampus Lithen 35 FG, 4:12
CNU – Studer 30 FG, 10:49
CNU – Paul Dukes 9 run (Studer kick), 1:13
NCWC – Greg Edwards 36 pass from John Jackson (Lithen kick), 0:02
20 First downs...............10
148 Passing yards...........334
323 Total offense..........379
Rushing – NCWC: Jacques Alston 6-31; John Jackson 8-21; Laron Ellerbe 3-(-2); John Young 1-(-5).
Passing – NCWC: John Jackson 24-52, 334.
Receiving – NCWC: John Young 6-113; Timaine Moore 6-60; Greg Edwards 5-89; Jacques Alston 3-31.
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or email@example.com