Whatever progress Charleston Southern's offense made in the second half of last week's loss to Jacksonville was nullified Saturday by a physical Norfolk State defense.
The Spartans (3-1) of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference dominated play from the start en route to a relatively easy 33-3 win in CSU's home opener.
CSU (0-4), which rushed for 327 yards last week, was limited to 55 yards on the ground and 141 total yards in offense.
Norfolk State's defense came into the game allowing 82.7 yards per game, 14th nationally among FCS schools.
On the flip side, Norfolk State riddled CSU's defense for 519 yards, including 234 yards on the ground. Spartans QB Chris Walley completed 20 of 23 passes for 285 yards and two scores. Takeem Hedgeman led the ground game with 107 yards.
"Norfolk State has a very good defense, one of the best at the FCS level, and we just did not have all 11 guys together offensively early in the game," said coach Jay Mills, whose CSU squad opened the season on the road for its first three games. "We knew they were a very good team. This is a team that led West Virginia at halftime, and I think they will do very well the remainder of the season. They are strong in all three phases of the game."
Norfolk State scored on its first two possessions, starting with an 85-yard drive on the game's first series. Walley connected with Xavier Boyce on a 13-yard scoring pass with 10:41 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a CSU punt, Walley and Victor Hairston combined on a 67-yard pass and run for a touchdown with 8:56 to play.
Ryan Estep booted the first of his three field goals on the day, a 23-yarder for a 17-0 lead after one quarter.
"I think they executed very well early, but I also think we were tentative defensively," said Mills. "We had a group waiting for someone to make a play instead of making a play themselves. That's where we are right now."
CSU's lone points came on Andy Brown's 25-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Spartans opened the second half with an 80-yard drive, culminating in a Rico Flores 1-yard run with 6:38 to play in the third. Estep added two more field goals, and Everett Goldberg kicked a 47-yarder for the final margin.
CSU did have a few positives on special teams. Goose Creek's Kevin Glears totaled 205 yards on kickoff returns, including a 51-yarder. Brown averaged 42.4 yards on eight punts.
Quarterback Malcolm Dixon, who rushed for 163 yards in last week's game against Jacksonville, was limited to one net yard rushing and completed 7 of 19 passes for 86 yards.
Charleston Southern hosts Wesley College for home- coming next week before getting into Big South Conference play.