By Joseph Phillips
Prior to the game, the teams marched on to the field with two objectives in mind: “win at all costs!” and “go home with the bragging right of all HBCU bragging rights: ‘Who is the Real HU’?”
“Any time our kids can get a chance to play in a venue like this, is amazing,” said Robert Prunty, head coach of the Hampton University Pirates about his team’s experience playing at historic Soldier Field. “They (the players) will remember this for the rest of their lives. I’m very thankful for the city of Chicago and everybody who (helped) put (this) classic (together).”
During the interview, coach Prunty would display sportsmanship, acknowledging coach Ron Prince and the Howard University football team for their hard work, hard play, determination and character shown throughout the game.
But in spite of the kind gesture by coach Prunty, the Pirates defense would pressure current NFL QB Cam Newton’s little brother and Bison’s football star quarterback Caylin Newton, “All…Night…Long.”
And in spite of Newton and the Bison offense grabbing an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, the Pirates defense would sack Newton four times throughout the game.
This didn’t end well for Newton, as he would surrender two turnovers on two interceptions, that would drop into the hands of the Pirates’ defensive pass coverage throughout the night.
Newton’s season-high 284 passing yards on 25 of 54 passing attempts for 2 TDs was not enough to counter the high-powered offense of the Pirates. The unit exploded for 34 of their 41 points in the third quarter.
The Pirates offense was led by QB and Florida State transfer Deondre Francois, who threw for a game high four touchdowns, 217 passing yards on 11-of-20 passing attempts for game MVP honors. In addition to Francois earning offensive MVP honors, teammate and cornerback Christian Angulo would join Francois, by earning defensive MVP honors, with five pass breakups and one interception on the night.
Although Francois and the Pirates’ offense was kept off the board in the first quarter, he would open the second quarter with a 70 yard TD strike to running back Darran Butts, giving the Pirates a 7-3 lead.
Following the 70-yard TD strike to Butts, Francois would connect again. This time on a 68-yard TD pass play to wide receiver Jadakis Bonds, earning the Pirates a 13-3 lead with 3:50 remaining in the half.
And in spite of the big plays made by Hampton U’s Francois, Butts, and Bonds, the Bisons responded in swift fashion with a 25-yard field goal by kicker Nick Fariss, trimming the Pirates’ lead to 13-6 with 71 seconds remaining in the half.
On the ensuing play, Butts set Hampton up with a scoring opportunity again as he would take a 90 yard kickoff return to the Bison’s five-yard line. The huge play by Butts, helped set up a five-yard TD strike from Francois to Bonds, connecting on their second TD of the game, while pushing the Pirates’ lead to 20-6 with 53 seconds remaining in the half.
After another big play by Francois and Bonds, the Bisons got a late touchdown pass from Newton to help close the gap to seven, making it a 20-13 score at half time.
In the second half, Hampton took control of the game by using a pair of scoring drives to push the lead to 34-13 in the third quarter. The first came on an eight-play, 58-yard scoring drive which ended on a ten-yard run by running back William Robinson with 10:44 remaining on the clock.
Following Robinson’s TD run, Bonds would strike again! This time on a 48-yard touchdown run with five seconds left in the quarter, finishing the game with three touchdowns on the night.
In the fourth quarter, Francois would close out the night for good, this time on a five-yard TD pass to wide receiver KeyRon Catlett with 7:43 remaining in the game. The touchdown pass by Francois, was his fourth of the night.
Following the fourth and final touchdown throw out of the hands of Hampton’s QB Francois, the Pirates’ defense would pitch a shutout the rest of the way, holding the Bison offense to zero points in the last seven minutes and forty three seconds of the game.
Final Score: Hampton 41, Howard 20