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The Norfolk Blues took a huge step in claiming 1st in the Mid-Atlantic Conference with a 23-7 defeat of league-leaders Baltimore-Chesapeake in Baltimore.
Norfolk cannot move into 1st yet, as they haven't played as many games as the top two teams, but the Blues improved to 8-2 and have moved past 8-4 Baltimore on the tiebreaker. PAC will likely end the day in 1st after their game against Raleigh.
But Norfolk has an extra two games to play over PAC.
"We know we are in control of us," said Norfolk assistant coach Matt Robinette. "We know if we win out we win the league, and wins on the road are huge, they are really tough to come by."
The match was moved to some dry-ish ground and as a result the pitch was small. The soggy ground and the narrow field made it enormously difficult to go wide.
"We knew that if we were getting by their defense we'd have to go through," said Robinette. "We talked all week about taking points when we could. And in the warmup Johnny [Cameron] looked like he had good range."
Flyhalf Cameron slotted two penalty goals in the first half for a 6-0 Norfolk lead. Meanwhile his halfback partner, Dutch Jones, was working the forwards and did well to keep the game moving and Baltimore under pressure.
In the second half, center Hunter Naff found some space and scored to make it, with Cameron's conversion, 13-0. Battling on, Norfolk got another Cameron penalty and then, late in the match, a try from flanker Ceciil Garber. Baltimore finally got their one and only try with about nine minutes to go.
"We are very happy with our defense," said Robinette. "It was a tight game and we had to defend well. Both teams wanted to go wide, but we really couldn't, and thankfully Johnny was on target and with Fred Wintermantel and Jimmy Smith doing their thing, we got the win."
Norfolk now has four games remaining, three of them at home, while after today, Baltimore-Chesapeake and PAC will have only two. Even if those two teams win out, Norfolk will likely take the lead even if they lose a game.