NEWPORT NEWS, VA - The old saying goes, "I'd rather be lucky than good." Saturday night at POMOCO Stadium, the Christopher Newport football squad was good for most of the night. But it took some late luck for the Captains to prevail in overtime over Shenandoah, 27-20.
"Yeah, we were lucky," Head Coach Matt Kelchner said after the wild finish. "But Shenandoah is a good football team and we found a way."
CNU built a 6-0 lead at halftime and went up 20-0 early in the fourth quarter before the Hornets mounted a comeback. Shenandoah scored twice on drives of 72 and 80 yards in a five minute span to cut the lead to 20-14. Both scores came on passes from senior quarterback Daniel Wright to senior wide receiver Rico Wallace.
The Captains then helped the Hornets with an ill-advised pass that was picked off and returned to the CNU 20 yard line. Four plays later, with just 17 seconds left, the Hornets scored again on a 2-yard run from Wright. SU was a mere extra point away from pulling ahead for the first time in the game.
That's when the luck kicked in.
The Captains took a time out to give Shenandoah's sophomore kicker Andrew Lloyd some extra time to think about the kick. He would end up pushing the attempt wide left to keep the game tied at 20-20.
"He was kicking it to the end of the field where we have the band and a lot of fans," Kelchner said. "I thought the time out would help take them out of sync a little bit....why not take it? Again, we got lucky."
The miss proved to be a huge reprieve for the home team.
The Captains got the ball first in overtime and needed a little more luck to re-take the lead. Sophomoe quarterback Lyndon Garner (Tappahannock, Va.), who started for the first time this season due to an injury to junior Christian Woelfel-Monsivais, threw 10 yards to the end zone. The pass deflected off SU linebacker Josh Rogers and into the hands of CNU sophomore receiver Kentel Noel (Weems, Va.).
CNU's defense then held as Shenandoah quarterback Daniel Wright threw four straight incompletions to complete the Captains 27-20 victory.
"Our goal is always to get better each week," Kelchner said. "We played a great game for 53 minutes. I just told our team to get ready to get back to work and continue to improve."
Quarterback Lyndon Garner's play mirrored the rest of the team, looking great at times but inconsistent overall.
"Lyndon is a young quarterback," Kelchner continued. "He made a couple of mistakes, but overall he did a pretty good job. He's now started four games over the last two years and he is 4-0, so he's doing a lot right."
Garner finished the game 14 of 23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns and two picks. His other touchdown came on a 14-yard pass to junior tight end Chris Coiner (Charlottesville, Va.) late in the third quarter.
CNU sophomore running back Markeese Stovall (Richmond, Va.) rushed 28 times for 124 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. It was Stovall's 7th rushing score of the season.
Christopher Newport is now 3-2 at the halfway point of the season. The Captains are tied with Ferrum at 2-0 atop the USA South standings.
Shenandoah falls to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
The game was the final meeting of the two schools in conference play. Shenandoah is leaving the USA South following the season to join the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
A crowd of 4,589 watched the first CNU conference game under the lights at POMOCO Stadium.
The Captains travel to Averett next Saturday for a 1:30 kickoff with the Cougars.