HAMPTON, Va. - After three first half turnovers and with the rain from Hurricane Sandy beginning to fall, Hampton clearly was in need of a spark, struggling to move the ball against Savannah State.
Defensive back Khambrel McGee gave it to them, and saved not only a touchdown, but perhaps the game, as the Pirates got 188 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Jeremi Schwartz in a 21-13 victory on Saturday.
McGee intercepted a pass by quarterback Antonio Bostick and ran 73 yards to the Tigers' 23, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by Antoni McCloude to put Hampton ahead, 7-3, with 4:08 in the second quarter.
On Hampton's next possession, Schwartz, who came into the game with 606 yards rushing, ran down the left sideline for a 61-yard touchdown, putting the Pirates ahead, 14-3.
The game started ominously for Hampton (2-3, 2-5 in the MEAC), as two of freshman quarterback Jaylian Williamson's first three passes were picked off.
That prompted a quick hook from Pirates' coach Donovan Rose, who went to redshirt junior Najee Taylor.
But after Taylor threw an interception early in the second quarter, Rose went back to Williamson and the Pirates went to a steady diet of Schwartz, who ensured his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season with 153 in the first half.
Rose was forced into the quarterback tandem after starting quarterback Travis Champion suffered a concussion in the second quarter of last week's loss to N.C. Central.
Schwartz got his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run with 3:47 in the third quarter, set up when Tigers' punter Jacob Thomas couldn't handle the wet ball and fell on the ball on the one-yard- line.
Savannah State rallied on the strength of Bostick's arm, as he threw three straight completions to get the Tigers in scoring range before Juwhan Smith-Arnold finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown to make it 21-10.
After the Tigers St. (1-7, 0-5) stalled on their next possession, James Butts of Hampton fumbled Thomas' 42-yard punt, giving Savannah State the ball on the Hampton 20.
The Pirates held, forcing a 29-yarder by sophomore Christopher Bruce with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Hampton was unable to mount a drive, but a 53-yard punt by Stovall backed Savannah State to its own 15.
Bostick mounted a 12-play, 80-yard drive before it stalled on the Hampton five, where linebackers Charles Benning and Norman Booker combined for a sack.
Savannah State had one last chance after Hampton was forced to punt out of its own end zone, but a roughing the kicker call sealed the game for the Pirates.
NOTES: Hampton coach Donovan Rose said Travis Champion would be out at least through next week's game at Delaware State. ... Kellie Wells, a Hampton graduate who won a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, conducted the coin toss. ... Although Savannah State caused three first half turnovers, it was only able to convert them into a 28-yard field goal by Christopher Bruce and scored only six points on four red-zone opportunities.