By Matthew Michalec
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s note: This story is courtesy of Norfolk State athletics
BALTIMORE, MD. — Greg Hankerson Jr. scored on a 57-yard touchdown run with 8:05 left in the game to break a 10-all tie, and the Norfolk State defense came up with two big stops in the final minutes to help the Spartans secure a 17-10 victory over Morgan State in the season finale for both teams at Hughes Stadium on Saturday.
The win clinched the second straight .500 MEAC record for the Spartans (4-7, 4-4 MEAC), who also beat the Bears (4-6, 4-4) for the ninth straight time overall and sixth straight in Baltimore.
Hankerson ran for a game-high 88 yards on nine carries while throwing for 125 yards and another touchdown for NSU.
NSU took a 3-0 lead on its first drive of the second quarter. Cameron Marouf capped an eight-play march with a 37-yard field goal with 11:03 left in the period.
The Bears answered on their next possession, driving 65 yards in 10 plays to take their first lead of the game. Quarterback Moses Skillon finished the drive with a 12-yard TD pass to Orlando Johnson with 6:52 left in the half, and MSU held a 7-3 lead at halftime.
NSU retook the lead with its first possession of the second half. The Spartans took the third-quarter kickoff and drove 80 yards in eight plays.
Hankerson found Isaac White for a 9-yard touchdown pass – their seventh TD hookup of the season – to give NSU a 10-7 advantage with 11:19 left in the third quarter. The big play on the drive was a 42-yard pass play from Hankerson to DeAndre Sangster.
Chris Moller – who missed a 36-yard field goal later in the third quarter – would eventually tie the game at 10-all with a 31-yard field goal with 14:07 left in the fourth quarter.
But Hankerson provided the fourth-quarter heroics. The teams traded punts, and NSU took over at its 29 with 9:25 to play.
After two runs by Marcus Taylor and Larry Bishop, Hankerson took a shotgun snap, faked a hand-off to Bishop, and found room behind the right side of his line. After picking up a couple blocks near the line of scrimmage, Hankerson outraced the Morgan State defensive backfield for a 57-yard touchdown run with 8:05 to play.
It was Hankerson’s third touchdown run of the year, and second covering more than 50 yards.
The Spartan defense did the rest. They forced Morgan State to punt after picking up one first down on the game’s next possession.
After picking up just one first down of its own on its next drive, the Spartan offense was backed up deep in its own end and forced to punt from near its end zone.
The Bears took over their last possession at the NSU 45 and reached as far as the NSU 27. But two costly penalties backed the Bears up, and Walter Brantley and Jay Anderson registered sacks of Skillon in a span of three plays to force a turnover on downs.
Anderson dragged Skillon down on 4th-and-42 to give the ball back to the Spartans with 34 seconds left, and NSU ran out the clock.
The Spartans trailed at the half in all four of their wins this year. Hankerson accounted for the winning points with either a touchdown run or pass in three of the four wins.
Hankerson finished with 216 yards of total offense and had a hand in both NSU touchdowns against MSU. He also cracked the 2,000-yard passing mark for the year (2,052), the seventh time a Spartan signal-caller has achieved that feat in school history. He also finished the year with a team-high 423 rushing yards, giving him 2,475 yards of total offense – the fourth most for a single-season in NSU history.
Sangster had a career-high eight catches for 70 yards for NSU on Saturday. Bishop, making his first start of the year at tailback, ran 12 times for 49 yards.
Defensively, linebacker Deon King put a period on his fantastic NSU career with 14 tackles, two for loss. He was credited with 13 solo stops.
The national Division I leader in total tackles entering the day finished the season with 163 on the year, second-most for a single season in school history behind Kevin Talley’s FCS-record 195 tackles (in 12 games) in 2003. King finished his career with 372 total tackles, second-most behind Talley’s 408 in the school’s Division I era record book.
Also on Saturday, Raynard Revels had seven tackles (one for loss). Brantley, Anderson, Kyle Archie and Chris Lee each had one of the team’s four sacks, and Harry Freeman V came up with his second interception of the year to thwart one Bear drive deep in NSU territory.