Francis' hat trick lifts Camels over Longwood 3-1

Jhuvon Francis (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)
Jhuvon Francis (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Jhuvon Francis scored his first career hat trick and Campbell won a battle of teams unbeaten in Big South play Wednesday night with a 3-1 decision over Longwood at the Eakes Complex.

A junior from Kingston, Jamaica, Francis notched Campbell's first 3-goal game since his countryman Khalil Johnson hit the net three times against USC Upstate on Oct. 8, 2009.

Campbell (4-6-3, 4-0-1) stretched its unbeaten streak to five matches (3-0-2) while ending a 5-game unbeaten stretch (4-0-1) for Longwood (5-5-3, 4-1-1).

Camel keeper Ethan Hall, who was named Big South defensive player of the week for the second-straight time on Monday, had eight saves, including a pair of reaction stops against Lee Martin in the opening 10 minutes to keep the game scoreless.

In the 19th minute, Isaiah Page split the Lancers back line with a pass to Francis, who broke in free, but shot directly to Longwood keeper Carlos Canas.

The next time, however, the Jamaican forward made certain when he ran on to a long clearance from Bryce Miller, touched the ball by the keeper and slotted home the ball into the empty net in the 26th minute.

Campbell's lead was short-lived when Longwood freshman Nnamdi Ikeazor scored the first goal of his career after Vaughn Fowler's low square ball slipped through a crowded Campbell box.

Early in the second half, Canas failed to clear a ball at the top of the area, but Campbell's Eduardo Rodriguez shot well above the cross bar of an empty net.  Longwood countered shortly thereafter down the left flank through Anthony Ugorji, but Zach Corcoran didn't get enough on his left-footed shot and Hall routinely scooped up the loose ball.

After 56 minutes, Pepe Rangel hit a right-footed shot from outside the box that beat Canas, but caromed off the right post.  Francis was there to knock in the rebound for his first multi-goal game since he scored twice in a 3-0 blanking of Virginia Tech on Oct. 2, 2012.

Less than four minutes later Rangel missed just wide when his right-footed effort inside the area curled inches wide of the upper left corner.

Francis again was in the right spot in the 81st minute after Tunji Osifeso dribbled by his defender down the right flank and crossed the ball to Page, who headed it down and the junior easily side-footed the ball into the net for an insurance strike.

"Overall, I was pleased with our performance against a quality Longwood team," said fourth-year Campbell head coach Steve Armas.  "It was exciting to see Jhuvy convert his chances in a crucial part of the season.  However, it was a collective team effort.  Ethan made some big saves early on and with our defense helped to energize our attack."

Wednesday's result left only fifth-ranked Coastal Carolina (6-0-0) and Campbell (4-0-1) unbeaten in Big South play.  The Camels host Gardner-Webb Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

Both Campbell and Longwood finished the night with 12 shots.  The Lancers held a slight 9-7 edge in shots on target.  Canas had four saves in the Longwood nets.

NOTES:  Campbell improved its record to 38-11-6 (.745) in its last 55 games during the month of October (including a 3-1-2 mark in 2013).  In those 55 contests, the Camels have out-scored their foes by a 113-66 margin… Since the start of the 2005 campaign, Campbell owns a 47-23-4 (.662) record at the Eakes Athletic Complex -- including 4 wins over nationally-ranked teams at the site.  CU holds a 13-4-2 mark (2-3-2 this year) at Eakes dating to the start of the 2011 season… Campbell improved to 52-17-6 (.733) record in conference regular season play since the start of the 2005 campaign… CU stands 16-7-1 in the Big South regular season since re-joining the league in 2011… Longwood lost for the first time on the road in Big South play this season after one-goal victories at Radford and Gardn