Shai McKenzie ran for a career-high 152 yards as the Pirates scored the last 20 points of the game to pull away from Presbyterian for a 40-17 win on Saturday.
The win, Hampton’s first in the Big South Conference, started quickly as Hampton scored on its opening possession. A pass from Deondre Francois to Marcel Paul went for 52 yards down to the Presbyterian 11. From there McKenzie bulled his way into the end zone for an early 6-0 lead just 41 seconds into the game.
The Blue Hose answered taking advantage of a turnover to gain possession at the Hampton 14. The Pirates defense stiffened and forced a 32-yard field goal by Parker Maddrey to trail 6-3 with three minutes left in the quarter.
Hampton scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, both on passes by Francois. He connected with KeyRon Catlett on a 10-yard scoring pass at the 10:04 mark and then with Aedon Johnson on a nine-yard scoring strike with 94 seconds left as Hampton took a 20-3 lead into halftime.
Presbyterian got themselves back into the contest scoring twice in a five-minute span of the third quarter. Brandon Thompson connected with Dohnte Meyers on a 42-yard scoring pass with 11:59 left to trail 20-10. Thompson finished off a 59-yard scoring drive with a one-yard run at the 6:32 mark as the guests trailed 20-17.
Austin Bradley answered the two touchdowns by the Presbyterian quarterback with a pair of his own. He connected with Jadakis Bonds on a 51-yard scoring pass with 4:55 left in the third to push the lead back to double digits at 27-17.
The Pirates then went on an 82-yard scoring drive over 14 plays that took 9:10 off the clock as Bradley finished it with a one-yard push to take the lead to 33-17 with 7:47 left.
Hampton’s special teams put the finishing touches on this win as Lorenzo Thompson blocked a punt that was scooped by Ohmante Jenkins for a 24-yard run with 4:26 remaining.
This was the fourth straight 100-yard game for McKenzie with career highs in carries (28) and yards (152). He is now at 909 yards through nine games and could become the first Hampton 1,000-yard rusher since Jeremiah Schwartz ran for 1,043 in 2012.
Francois was 13-of-23 for 195 yards and two touchdowns to go over 2,000 yards on the year. His two touchdowns now puts him tied for third on the single-season touchdown passes list with 20.
Bonds had his third 100-yard receiving game of the year with eight catches for 134 yards and one touchdown. That score moved him into second on the single-season touchdown reception list with 11.
For the fourth time in nine games, the defense held an opponent to under 55 yards rushing as the Blue Hose ran for 46 yards. That matches the fewest yards on the ground in a game this year as North Alabama ran for 46 on October 5. Elizabeth City State and Gardner-Webb ran for 55 yards on the Pirates.
Caleb Brown had seven tackles to lead Hampton defense with two for a loss. Mason King, DeAndre Faulk and Oral Varcciann added five each.
Hampton (5-4, 1-2) now visits Charleston Southern on November 9 for a 6pm kick.