NEWPORT NEWS, Va.- Christopher Newport's football team has accomplished many things in more than twelve seasons of action on the gridiron. Matt Kelchner's squad has played in nine NCAA Tournaments, won or shared nine USA South titles, won 65 percent of its games and 83 percent of its conference games, and captured 69 percent of its home games at POMOCO Stadium.
But prior to Saturday night, the Captains had never been 2-0 to start a season.
That all changed as CNU held off Hampden-Sydney, 17-7, in front of a POMOCO Stadium record crowd of 6,675.
The Captains forced eight Tiger turnovers, five interceptions and three fumbles, en route to the 10-point triumph. Christopher Newport scored all of its points in the first half, held a 17-0 lead at the intermission, and then allowed only a late Hampden-Sydney score with 1:25 to play in the fourth quarter.
"It was a great win for us obviously," Head Coach Matt Kelchner said. "They're a good program and they beat us pretty good on their field last year...our defense really got the job done again, they were terrific."
CNU opened the scoring with a Paul Dukes touchdown run from four yards out just five minutes into the first quarter. The Captains posted a four-play, 76-yard drive that was highlighted by a 58-yard completion from junior quarterback Marcus Morrast to junior tight end Matt Kerr.
The Captains added another touchdown six minutes later at the 4:09 mark of the opening quarter on a 27-yard scoring scamper from Morrast. The run came on the first play following a Hampden-Sydney fumble at the 27-yard line.
Sophomore kicker Mason Studer added a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds of the second quarter to complete CNU's scoring for the night. For the second straight week, 17 points proved to be enough for victory.
"I certainly would have preferred for us to punch in another one or two scores," Kelchner continued. "We had some shots and just couldn't get it to happen. We relied on our defense and they were there for us all night."
Senior linebacker Evan Moog again led the way on defense, posting 14 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Mic Edwards picked off two passes, recovered a fumble, and made 10 stops. Sophomore cornerback Cameron Barlow picked off two passes and recovered a fumble, and sophomore cornerback Tyrell Eaton made 13 tackles. Senior linebacker A.J. Schmetzer tallied 10 tackles, and senior linebacker Tyler Portell recovered a fumble and made six stops. Sophomore Vincent Bolden also intercepted a pass for the Captains.
Hampden-Sydney junior quarterback Nash Nance attempted 72 passes, completing 45 for 364 yards. Nance's five interceptions came a year after he threw five touchdowns against the Captains in a 42-20 H-SC victory. The five picks matched a CNU school record.
CNU quarterback Marcus Morrast was 10 of 22 for 132 yards passing. He also rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries and a score.
Sophomore tailback Paul Dukes ran the ball 18 times for 60 yards and a score, his second of the season after scoring the game-winner last week at Salisbury in the final minute on a pass from Morrast.
The crowd of 6,675 eclipsed the previous high of 6,141 set in 2011 vs. North Carolina Wesleyan
Brady Macko spoiled the CNU shutout by scoring the Tigers only points of the night on a three-yard run with just 47 seconds left. The loss left the Tigers with a 1-1 record.
CNU will put its 2-0 record on the line next Saturday night at POMOCO Stadium. The Captains will host Shenandoah (1-1) with kickoff set for 7 p.m. The game will be a part of Family Weekend activities at CNU.