Only the fans in the Virginia State University (VSU) bleachers seemed to feel the nasty weather at last Saturday’s game in Ettrick. Their players, however, emerged from the locker room hot-blooded and ready to do some real damage on Virginia Union University.
The Trojans sent Union back home to Richmond with a 39-14 upset.
“I thought this was our best performance all year,” said Virginia State head coach Andrew Faison. “I thought our offense came out early and hit them in the mouth, ran the football effectively. I thought our quarterback, [Jared] Battle, managed the game well – as far as the clock. I thought overall that our guys did a great job.”
On defense, the Trojans forced a fumble on the first play of the game, recovering the ball on Virginia Union’s 25-yard line.
As Virginia State inched closer to the end zone, senior running back Antwain Lyde then found a hole to put the Trojans up 6-0 with 12 minutes left to go in the first quarter. Meadowbrook graduate kicker Billy Rudd made the extra point, setting the score at 7-0.
On their next drive, at third and goal, Virginia State – on Union’s 17 yard line – scored another touchdown with Lyde once again finding holes in Union’s defense. Another good extra point by Rudd put the Trojans ahead 14-0 with about a little less than seven minutes to go in the first quarter.
As Virginia Union began making its way across the field on offense, Thomas Dale graduate and senior free safety Howard Spencer intercepted a pass and ran the ball down field for a 55-yard touchdown. Making the two-point conversion, Virginia State finished the first half with a 22-0 lead.
“Our mentality was to go out there and play as hard as we could, and have fun doing it. We had a nice crowd, a very positive week – we really just wanted to come out and have fun,” said Lyde, who had 92 yards rushing on the day.
And despite a strong defensive attack by VSU’s inside linebacker Jeremy Pruitt, who had six and half tackles by halftime, Union managed to score a touchdown with 10 minutes left to go in the first half; however, they failed to make the two-point conversion.
With the score at 22-6, Lyde’s 35-yard run put the Trojans close to Union’s end zone. At second and eight on Union’s 10-yard line, quarterback Jared Battle made a quick pass to wide receiver Thadtiguss Lewis for another touchdown. A third successful extra point put the score at 29-6.
In the early third quarter, VSU scored their last touchdown of the game with a pass from Battle to wide receiver Dion Fitch on fourth and long on the Union 12-yard line. Another extra point put the Trojans ahead, 36-6.
Minutes later, Union would advance to score their second touchdown of the game but ultimately failed at another two-point conversion. The score was 36-12 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
During the fourth quarter, Rudd would make a 27-yard field goal, and a safety would make the final points for Union. Penalties and minor advances would take the ball all over the field, but the game would end with VSU kneeling to kill the clock. Beating Union 39-12, the Trojans went to 5-4 on the season.
“All week we’ve been emphasizing that this is the last home game for a lot of us, so we’ve wanted to finish with a bang at home,” Spencer said. “You certainly want to remember your last homecoming.”