Hampton Parlays Special Teams Play into Win Over Howard
Hampton Parlays Special Teams Play Into
Win Over Howard
Washington, DC, Sept. 10--Hampton University parlayed some outstanding play on special teams and one big play on defense into a 22-12 win over Howard University in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before an overflow crowd at Greene Stadium.
The Pirates (2-0, 1-0 in the MEAC) blocked a Bison PAT attempt, recorded a safety and got two field goals on a day when the offense was dominated by the Bison defense.
Howard (1-1, 0-1 in the MEAC) took control of the game early with two, 80-yards drives that opened a 12-0 lead. The Bison used a controlled running game, featuring Keon Coleman (14 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD) and Antoine Rutherford (18 carries, 116 yards) running behind the effective blocking of left offensive tackle, Willie Shine.
But the problems on special teams played an early role as Bison place kicker and punter Noam Dror had a PAT blocked.
“We never concern ourselves with the other team’s special teams,” explained Hampton coach Joe Taylor. “We just make sure that ours is on point.”
In addition to the Howard miscues with the kicking game, the Bison had problems containing the Pirates’ dangerous punt return specialist, Marquay McDaniel, who returned four punts for 129 yards.
“The big thing in this game was field position,” said Howard Coach Ray Petty. “They have great speed with their return people and their kickers did a great job of pinning us deep in our territory.”
Yet, despite the problems on special teams, the defense refused to wilt under the heat and humidity and Hampton’s great field position until Alonzo Coleman capped off a 72-yard drive with a 22-yard scamper around the left side to get his team to within 12-7 at the half.
The drive served to be a momentum changer as Hampton forced Howard into three-and-outs on their first four possessions of the third quarter. Keon Coleman and Rutherford, who took turns picking up chunks of yardage in the first half, found few lanes in the second half.
“We were in the gaps in the first half, but we just weren’t bringing them down,” said Coach Taylor. “The second half, we had to stop yards after the contact and it made a difference.”
Hampton continued to have outstanding field position, but the Bison defense stiffened and forced an Andrew Paterini 36-yard field goal to close the deficit to 12-10 at the 9:22 mark of the third period.
Then Howard committed another mistake, this time a snap over Dror’s head for safety that tied the score at 12-12 at the 4-minute mark of the third.
The Pirates held Howard on downs on the next possession and again got a short field to work with following another fine punt return by McDaniel.
But again, the Bison defense clamped down and forced a 42-yard field goal by Paterini that gave Hampton its first lead at 15-12.
Howard responded with its best drive of the second halfand began to get some rhythm by running Rutherford, Jamar Smith and Coleman, moving 56 yards in 11 plays to the Hampton 4-yard line.
Then came the biggest play of the game. Hampton’s Kyle Whitehurst stepped in front of Howard wide receiver Jarahn Williams at the Pirates’one-yard line and returned it 99 yards to all but seal the Pirates’ ninth straight win over the Bison in this heated rivalry.
It marked the second straight week that the Bison defense faced a team that boasts two returning 1,000-yard runners. And again, they showed why they are arguably the best defense in the MEAC. Last week, they held Winston-Salem State to minus-22 yards rushing; and this week, they held the highly-touted duo of Alonzo Coleman and Ardell Daniels to a combined total of 67 rushing yards.
“They have a heck of a defense,” praised Taylor. “They have an immovable mass up front and the secondary is led by that great safety, Antoine Bethea. We were very fortunate to win this game.”
Rutherford, who rushed for a game-high 116 yards on 18 carries, was philosophical about the loss. “We have to have amnesia about this game and finish strong to get a piece of the championship.”
Hampton has liitle time to celebrate as it faces North Carolina A&T this Thursday night in Greensboro, NC at 7:30 on ESPNU while the Bison travel to Tallahassee, FL next Saturday to play Florida A&M at 7 p.m.