Matt Long to T.J. Foster might not be Joe Montana to Jerry Rice, but hearing that combination over the public address system repeatedly Saturday night at Shentel Stadium sure sounded sweet to the Christopher Newport University football team.
The senior quarterback Long and the senior wide receiver T.J. Foster combined for three touchdowns to lead the Captains to a 28-13 win over Shenandoah University, their first of the season, in the USA South Conference opener for both teams.
Overall, Long threw the ball just 14 times and completed nine passes for 207 yards, but four of those completions went to Foster for big gains. Foster finished with four catches for 163 yards, hauling in a 59- and 16-yard touchdown passes in the third quarter and and a 19-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter with 8:10 to play that finished the scoring.
CNU, which came in surrendering 41.7 points and 417 yards per game, had its best defensive performance of the year, holding SU (0-4,0-1) to 201 yards on 61 plays.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Captains' defense made a big stand to thwart SU's momentum.
With the Hornets on the 5, they lost 12 yards when quarterback Daniel Wright's backwards pass went off wide receiver Brian Calloway's hands and rolled backward out-of-bounds to the 17. On the following play, the Captains snuffed out a boot leg and sacked Wright for a four-yard loss, and SU had to settle for a 38-yard Andrew Lloyd field goal that made it 21-13 with 10:13 to play.
At the 4:21 mark of the third quarter, the Captains extended the lead they first gained six minutes earlier when Long hit junior wide receiver Antonio Epps on a 16-yard fade in the front right corner of the end zone. That completed a 45-yard drive and put CNU up 21-10 with 4:12 to go in the third.
Foster once again showed his explosive speed to give the Captains their first lead of the game at 14-10.
Though Foster was covered over the top, Long threw a slightly under thrown ball toward the left sideline that Foster came back to at the 40. He caught it, quickly cut inside, and burst up field for a 59-yard touchdown pass with 10:07 left in the period. The score completed a six-play, 84-yard drive.
The Hornets executed their two-minute drill nicely to take a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Starting at their own 35 with 1:14 remaining, they drove to the Captains' 9 with 20 seconds remaining, highlighted by a 21-yard rollout pass from Wright that he squeezed in between four defenders to Rico Wallace.
But with the Hornets at the CNU 9, the Captain's defense stiffened, and they stuffed running back Kevin Roberts for no gain at the 2. SU settled for a 20-yard field goal from Lloyd with four seconds left.
With the game tied at 7, CNU had a chance to take the lead on a 39-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Trotman, but Nick Erdman broke through to get a hand on it and block it with 11:22 left in the second quarter.
CNU tied the game at 7 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Keith Gaines, who went in untouched off left tackle at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter to complete an eight-play, 63-yard drive.
The score was set up by two incredible feats of athleticism. On first-and-20 from the Captains' 26, Long turned what appeared to be an almost 10-yard sack into a 11-yard gain by flipping the ball to Gaines just before he tackled. Two plays later, Long hit Foster for a 39-yard gain on a go route down the right sideline - with SU's Phil Volz providing tight coverage, Foster made a leaping catch just before he fell out-of-bounds at the 15.
CNU leads the all-time series 7-3 now after winning its sixth straight game in the series.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun