Richmond, VA (WWBT)- Virginia Union has played well during its three game homestand, and entered Saturday afternoon looking to win all three games during the stretch at Hovey Field. However, after three overtimes, it was Elizabeth City State walking off the field with the victory.
Richard Rodwell scored a touchdown to pull the Panthers to within two in the third overtime period, but his two-point conversion attempt failed, giving the Vikings the 43-41 win. Virginia Union falls to 4-3 on the season, 2-2 in the CIAA.
Virginia Union struck first in the first quarter with Jerel Washington's nine yard TD rush that came after a snap that went over the punter's head to give the Panthers good field position. That's when Daronte McNeill took over, scoring a rushing touchdown to put the Vikings in front 7-6 in the second, and broke off a long run on 4th and 1 to set up his second score of the day. Elizabeth City State would add a field goal at the end of the half to lead 16-6 at the break.
A safety early in the third closed the gap to 16-8, but McNeill's third touchdown of the game put the Vikings up 22-8, after a missed PAT. Raymond Mack got the Panthers closer, pulling in an 18 yard pass from Cheston Hickman for a score, and Hickman would add a fourth quarter rushing touchdown to account for all the scoring in regulation, tying the game at 22.
The two teams traded touchdowns and extra points throughout two overtime periods, before Kevin Swain opened up the third OT for Elizabeth City State with a nine yard rush for a touchdown and McNeill added a two point conversion rush. Rodwell answered with his touchdown, but the Viking defense forced the conclusion of the contest with its stop of Rodwell on the two point try.
Despite the close score, many of the stats were heavily in favor of the visitors, most notably total offense. Elizabeth City State out-gained VUU, 524-232, in this category, including a 307-88 advantage on the ground. McNeill rushed for 233 yards on 41 carries and four touchdowns to lead the Vikings.
Paul Jones made some headlines during the game for the Panthers. The punter set a school record with a 72- yard punt and also broke the school record for average yards per punt at 51.3.
Virginia Union hits the road for its next two contests, beginning with Johnson C. Smith next Saturday.