DURHAM, N.C. – Hampton scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and rallied beat North Carolina Central for the second straight year. The Pirates prevailed 27-13 thanks to a19-yard touchdown reception by Javaris Brown and interception returns of 55 yards by Matt Davis and 68 yards by Ricardo Silva all in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Hampton won its fourth straight game this season and seventh straight over the Eagles in the series that was renewed last season with NCCU's acceptance into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. A year ago, Hampton scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter to beat the Eagles. Next season with NCCU gaining full conference membership, the game will count in the MEAC standings.
Hampton coach Donovan Rose said he was happy his team rallied for the victory but he wished they had played better in the first half so a comeback wouldn't be necessary.
"We've got to find a way to stop doing it in the second half," Rose said. "I get to the point now that I don't get nervous because I say to myself the guys are going to come back. We've been doing that every game and hopefully it will continue."
Hampton spotted NCCU the first 13 points as the Eagles scored on consecutive possessions late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter. The Pirates finally got on the scoreboard when Isiah Thomas, who played wide receiver most of the game, took a direct snap ran around the left side for a six-yard touchdown with 8:44 left in the half to make it 13-7. Thomas actually led Hampton with 63 rushing yards on seven carries.
The Pirates dodged a couple of other scoring chances by NCCU that could have made the deficit larger. NCCU coach Mose Rison said his team let Hampton stay in the game and that eventually cost the Eagles victory.
"They hung in there and had their backs against the wall," Rison said. "We just couldn't take advantage of the situation. It was 13-7 for a long time. We missed three easy field goals that could have given us a two-score lead."
Hampton scored the go-ahead touchdown with 9:14 left in the game after driving 80 yards. The Pirates got the ball after NCCU kicker Frankie Cardelle missed his third field goal in the game. Brown scored for Hampton on a 19-yard end-around pass fromThomas that made the score 14-13.
On NCCU's ensuing possession, Hampton's defense came up with a big play that gave the Pirates some breathing room on the scoreboard.
Pirate linebacker Matt Davis intercepted an NCCU middle screen pass at the Hampton 45 and rambled all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. Davis leaped in for the score at the pylon just ahead of NCCU quarterback Michael Johnson, who threw the errant pass. But Rodrigo Hernandez missed the extra point, leaving the score 20-13.
"I was glad I was able to make that play," Davis said.
But it didn't matter as Silva sealed the win for the Pirates with 2:10 left when he intercepted a pass that deflected off an NCCU receiver and ran it up the sideline for the clinching touchdown. Silva also led Hampton with 15 tackles, while Kenrick Ellis matched that total.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times