Crabbers win wet thriller

Standing on a soggy field, on a cold night after the game itself had matched the sloppy conditions, Hampton coach Mike Smith couldn't help but reminisce.

"Kind of like the old days, those old Hampton-Bethel games," he laughed. "You go out there and slug it out at the middle of the field, make 25 or 30 mistakes apiece, and play hard."

And so they did … right into overtime. And the Crabbers, who didn't pick up a first down until the third quarter, came away with a 20-19 win over the Bruins on Friday night at Darling Stadium.

David Watford's 3-yard touchdown run and Matt Cass' point-after gave Hampton a 20-13 lead in overtime. Bethel quarterback Rashad Manley answered with an 8-yard run, but Britt Baker's PAT was wide left.

Hampton (5-2, 4-2 Peninsula District) trailed 13-7 with 4:01 left in regulation as it took over at the Bethel 41-yard line. After two first downs, Watford scored on a 9-yard run to tie it with 31 seconds left. But Skyler Hutcheson's point-after attempt was blocked, sending the game to overtime.

"This game was really important," Watford said. "For the victory to come, that makes it so much better."

On the Crabbers' final two drives — one in regulation, one in overtime — Watford ran for 35 yards on eight carries. Though he completed one pass in 11 attempts (with two interceptions), he was clutch in dreadful conditions.

"It was kind of tough to play in this," he said. "You had to get used to it a little bit. But in the first half, we didn't play like we could have. ... I said to myself, I'm not going to let my team lose."

At halftime, Hampton had six times as many yards in penalties (68) as offense (11). Bethel (4-3, 3-3) scored on its opening possession but failed to build a larger cushion than 13-7 at the break. The Bruins set up Hampton's first touchdown on a botched snap in punt formation, which gave the Crabbers the ball at the 10-yard line.

Two scoring chances were dashed when Bethel fumbled on first-and-10 from the Hampton 28 and lost 6 yards on fourth-and-5 from the Crabbers' 19.

In the second half, Hampton slowly gained control. Bethel's 15 plays in the second half netted 22 yards and no first downs. And behind Watford, the Crabbers were able to tie it and get the win.

For the most part, it came without Hampton's best all-around player. Dion Futch — the Crabbers' top receiver, cornerback and return specialist — sprained his left ankle on Manley's 1-yard touchdown run with 8:11 left in the first quarter. He was carried off the field.

Futch watched from the sideline until the very end, when Smith had him hold for Cass' extra point in overtime.

"That was a good hold out there — it made the difference," Smith told Futch afterward. "I still don't forgive you for making me go to overtime."


Hampton 70067 — 20
Bethel 76006 — 19
Bet: Manley 1 run (Baker kick)

Ham: Watford 5 run (Hutcheson kick)

Bet: Manley 55 run (kick blocked)

Ham: Watford 9 run (kick blocked)

Ham: Watford 3 run (Cass kick)

Bet: Manley 8 run (kick failed)
First downs86
Passing yards100