HAMPTON, Va. -- Hampton used an 80-yard pass from Herb Bynes to ex-Tennessee running back LaMarcus Coker to break open its 35-17 victory over Norfolk State on Saturday.
The third-quarter touchdown came after the Spartans (2-5, 1-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) had pulled within 21-14.
The Pirates (5-1, 4-0) wouldn't let Norfolk St., which pulled off a 20-19 upset last season in the 46-year-old series known as the Battle of the Bay, get any closer.
The victory moved Hampton one-half game ahead of idle South Carolina State, and set up a conference showdown with the Bulldogs next week in Orangeburg, S.C.
The Pirates also scored on a 60-yard punt return from Jeremy Gilchrist, who came into the game averaging 18.8 yards per return after leading the nation with 19 yards per return last season, and a 70-yard catch from Florida State transfer Damon McDaniel.
The Spartans needed just three plays on the opening possession of the third quarter to pull within 21-14 on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Dennis Brown, who threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns, to Jamar Johnson.
But Hampton stretched its lead to 14 points when Bynes, who threw for 264 yards and three scores, avoided a blitz and found Coker.
Down 28-17 in the fourth quarter, the Spartans' hopes ended when Brown was intercepted in the end zone by the Pirates' Rasoul Wilson.