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Captains Fall in Home Opener to Averett, 24-20, as Cougars Score Two Touchdowns in Final Two Minutes

Christopher Newport appeared to grab the upper hand in the fourth quarter, scoring ten straight points to post a 20-10 lead but Averett wouldn't have it.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Averett University scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes Saturday night, handing Christopher Newport University a 24-20 loss in the home opener for the Captains. The defeat at Kelchner Field at TowneBank Stadium left both teams with 1-1 records after two weeks of the season.

CNU squandered a ten-point lead as Cougars senior quarterback Bryce Jackson threw two scoring passes in the final 1:37. Jackson hooked up with Tavien Goffigan on a 4-yard pass to pull the Cougars to within three, 20-17. After a successful onside kick, Averett went 53 yards in five plays, culminating when Jackson hit Marquise Woodruff on a 26-yard scoring play. The touchdown with just 46 seconds left gave the Cougars their winning margin, and also their first lead of the game.

"Obviously it's a tough defeat," First year Head Coach Paul Crowley said. "We really hurt ourselves in a lot of areas, especially on our special teams..I'm looking forward to see how we react to this setback. It's all about effort and physicality, and we're going to work hard to get better." 

The Captains got off to a solid start by traveling 82 yards on 13 plays on their opening drive of the game. Junior quarterback Matt Dzierski scampered 16 yards to finish the seven-and-a-half minute drive for CNU's first touchdown of the season. The Captains won in their opener, 9-3, last week at Washington and Lee by scoring only three field goals.

Averett responded with a long drive of its own, 72 yards on 19 plays, as kicker Will Caviness connected on a 19-yard field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter to make it 7-3. The teams then played scoreless football for the remainder of the half, as Christopher Newport retained its four-point edge at the break.

Senior kicker Ryan Castle got the scoring started in the second half, booting a 39-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to give the Captains a 10-3 advantage. Averett again responded quickly, as Jackson connected with Shyheim Wattington on a one-yard pass to even the score at 10-10.

Christopher Newport appeared to grab the upper hand in the fourth quarter, scoring ten straight points to post a 20-10 lead. Freshman running back Gunner White scored his first career TD on a 24-yard effort with 8:28 to go. Castle then drilled a 40-yard field goal with 3:52 on the clock to push the advantage to 20-10. It was Castle's fifth field goal in as many tries through the first two games of the season.

Unfortunately for the Captains, the ten-point lead would prove to be not enough as Jackson and company provided the late Cougar heroics. Jackson finished the night 24 of 44 passing for 216 yards and three scores. His top target was Goffigan, who caught ten passes for 115 yards and a score.

Dzierski's final numbers for the Captains were 11 of 16 for 116 yards passing along with 50 rushing yards on 17 carries. White recorded 71 rushing yards to lead CNU on 15 carries, and fellow freshman Colin Hart caught five passes for 77 yards to top the squad in receiving.

A crowd of 3,783 watched the Captains play their first of four straight home games at Kelchner Field at TowneBank Stadium. The victory marked the second straight for the Cougars over the Captains. Last year in Danville, Averett registered a 30-27 victory in overtime. CNU now holds a 12-4 advantage in the all-time series.

The Captains will host the Apprentice School next Saturday at Kelchner Field at TowneBank Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. for the first meeting ever of the programs. The Builders are off to a 2-0 start, and defeated Averett last week before downing Brevard on Saturday.

CNU will also have home games against Catholic (September 24th at 2:00 p.m.) and the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opener vs. Rowan on October 1st at 1:00 p.m.to conclude the four-game home stretch.

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