NORFOLK, Va. — The Battle of the Bay started way back in 1963 between Hampton University and Norfolk State. A series that's nearly even with the Spartans leading 29-27-1 over seven decades. The Pirates have a chance to edge closer in this matchup that happens Saturday in Hampton's Armstrong Stadium at 6 p.m.
HU won last year's showdown on NSU's field 17-7. The Pirates come off an impressive 35-31 win over Grambling State over the weekend, so they hope that momentum carries over.
"I think it's always good to get that first win", says Hampton quarterback, Chris Zellous. "What's important for us to understand is that we left a lot out there."
Hampton defensive lineman, Jay'Ree Hardy felt he and his teammates have matured over the past season. "We're closer", said the redshirt junior from King's Fork High School in Suffolk. "It's a better bond now. I feel like we're getting to know each other."
In a rivalry full of emotions on both sides, head coach Robert Prunty understands what his team will be facing.
"You're talking about guys who went to high school together. Then they've got family members who've played in these games", he said. "They're getting all sorts of messages on their cell phones. So I think there's a lot of hype behind that, but like I told the players, that don't get too high or don't get too low."
Across the water, the Spartans have some regrouping to do. They fell short at home to Virginia State in the Labor Day Classic 33-24. After winning three straight over Hampton from 2014-2016, they've dropped two of the last three meetings.
Head coach, Dawson Odums says his team was hurt badly by their loss to the Trojans. He felt a moment like might be a spark for them come Saturday against the Pirates.
"It's a fun atmosphere. It's going to be a really good football game", he said. "It's going to be exciting, but I do know the team that comes across the bridge from Norfolk is going to be a little more excited playing this football game and they're going to be playing a lot better."