NORFOLK, Va. – Greg Hankerson passed for 219 yards and threw touchdown passes to three different Spartans, helping Norfolk State snap a six-game losing streak with a 27-14 Homecoming win over Morgan State before 18,405 fans at Dick Price Stadium on Saturday.
Running backs Gerard Johnson (5-yarder) and Larry Bishop (2-yarder) and wideout Chuma Awanna (63-yarder) caught the scoring passes for the Spartans (2-6, 1-4 MEAC), who converted on all four of their trips inside the Morgan State (2-5, 2-3) red zone. The Spartan defense, meanwhile, forced three turnovers and tallied four sacks.
The first turnover NSU forced led to the game’s first touchdown. Safety Brandon Walkersacked Morgan State quarterback DeAndre Harris and forced a fumble, which NSU defensive lineman Chris Lee recovered at the MSU 24-yard line. Two plays later, Hankerson hit Johnson leaking out of the backfield for a 5-yard TD play with 6:42 left in the first quarter.
The Bears tied the game up on a 16-yard TD pass from Harris to Landen Malbrough at the 13:54 mark of the second quarter. But Cameron Marouf kicked a 27-yard field goal to give the Spartans a 10-7 lead entering halftime.
NSU dominated the third quarter. The Spartans had not scored a third-quarter point since the season-opening win over Elizabeth City State, but outscored the Bears 14-0 in the third period on Saturday. A short MSU punt set up NSU at the Bears’ 29-yard line midway through the quarter. Two plays later, Hankerson found Bishop on a 2-yard TD pass to give NSU a 17-7 lead with 7:59 left in the stanza.
The back-breaker came five minutes for Morgan State. On 3rd-and-14 from the NSU 37, Hankerson rolled to his right and hit Awanna in the flat. Awanna broke a couple of tackles and outraced the rest of the defense for a 63-yard TD play, his first career touchdown. Marouf’s PAT gave NSU a 24-7 lead with 2:37 left in the quarter.
Marouf added a 20-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. Malbrough caught a 17-yard TD pass from Harris with 52 seconds left in the game to account for the final points.
Hankerson completed 17 of 30 passes and did not throw an interception while completing a season-high three TD passes. He also led NSU with 59 yards rushing on 12 attempts. With 278 yards of total offense, Hankerson moved past Casey Hansen into fourth place in NSU history in total offense. Hankerson now has 4,122 yards passing and rushing in his two-year Spartan career.
Marcus Taylor caught a team-high seven passes for 53 yards and also had a 59-yard kickoff return in the first half. Awanna had a team-high 66 yards on two receptions.
The Spartan defense made a strong showing Saturday. NSU’s four sacks tied a season high. Defensive lineman Hadji Gaylord had two, while Lee and Walker had one apiece. Lee notched three of the Spartans’ eight tackles for loss in addition to recovering a fumble, and Gaylord also blocked a Bears’ field goal in the second quarter. Sandy Chapman and T.C. Livingston both made interceptions for the Spartans.
Harris threw for 161 yards and two scores for the Bears.
NSU takes to the road for its final three games, beginning next Saturday with a 5 p.m. game at Savannah State.