Bison Shut Out Bethune-Cookman On the Road
Daytona Beach, FL-November 11, 2006-It took 10 games but the Howard University football team finally put together a complete game. The Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman College were the unfortunate victims as the Bison dominated the Wildcats, 28-0 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Municipal Stadium.
"Howard has been waiting to bust out all season and it just happened to be us that they did it against," said Bethune-Cookman Coach Alvin Wyatt. "They came to play and we didn't."
Added Howard Coach Ray Petty, "This was our best all-around effort of the season. We played well in all phases of the game. I am so proud for this team." The Bison limited B-CC to 158 yards total offense while the offense picked up 276 yards on the ground and controlled the clock for almost 34 minutes.
Howard (4-6, 3-4 in the MEAC) made a statement from the beginning when it won the coin toss and elected to kick off rather than receive. The defense flexed on the high-scoring Wildcats (5-5, 3-4 in the MEAC) by pressuring quarterback Jarod Rucker out of the pocket and into hurried throws. B-CC, which came into the game averaging over 32 points per game, was forced to give up the ball on its first three possessions. Defensive ends Rudy Hardie and Endor Cooper along with tackles Edwin Piner and Marvin Wooten combined to make several tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The offense then began to take advantage of the sterling play by the defense as junior quarterback Brian Johnson engineered a well-conceived drive of 71 yards in six plays, with him capping off the drive on a 9-yards scamper just before the end of the first quarter.
B-CC, which plays two quarterbacks, turned to Jimmie Russell, who is the better runner of the two, but it made little difference as the Bison defense continue to tackle runners behind the line of scrimmage and harass the passers.
Howard capitalized again, this time on a 58-yard drive that took 6 plays and a
little under three minutes with Johnson hooking up with sophomore running back Karlos Whittaker from 8 yards to make it, 14-0 with a little over 5 minutes left in the half.
But the Bison were not finished, however. Hardie forced the first of two fumbles on the day and Howard recovered in good field position. With the Wildcats reeling, the Bison went to their bag of tricks to score. Reserve red-shirt freshman quarterback Floyd Haigler sneaked into the game for Johnson and connected with another reserve quarterback Darrell Turner on a four-yard scoring play before B-CC knew what happened. The 21-0 first half lead was the largest of the season for the Bison.
That was all the defense needed as it put together its most impressive effort of the season. Cooper, who was moved to defensive end from linebacker after missing all of last season with a knee injury, recorded 5 sacks and recovered a fumble. The 5 sacks is a career high for him and ties for the most in a game by an individual in 1-AA this season.
"When I looked at the film last week, I saw that they had a young player who would be playing in front of me," explained Cooper. "I didn't feel that he could block me one on one and they never double teamed me, so I was able to make plays."
Hardie, who came into the game ranked in the Top 5 in 1-AA in sacks and Number 2 in tackles for losses, added two more to his resume while also forcing two fumbles.
"We did not do anything different," said Hardie, who is a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. "We had a game plan and we executed it. The thing about the offense they run is that you have to be disciplined and carry out your assignments."
The Bison closed out the scoring with an 11-play, 59-yard drive that was culminated in a 6-yard strike from Johnson to freshman Michael Harper at the 9:01 mark of the third quarter.
But what could have been the defining moment in a season of missed opportunities and blown chances, Howard showed it has arrived, albeit late, when it embarked on a demoralizing, 17-play drive that ate up almost 10 minutes off the clock. The Bison did not score as the drive stalled at the B-CC three-yard line, but it all but took the wind out of the Wildcats' sails.
GAME NOTES: Whittaker ran a season-best 91 yards on 16 carries while Rutherford compiled 83 yards on 17 carries and Johnson contributed 73 yards on 10 carries...Johnson is 3-1 as a starter...Harper and Turner had their first career TD catches...Howard committed a season-low 2 penalties...the Bison converted on 9 of 16 third down conversion attempts...it marked the first that B-CC has been shutout since 1997...the Bison have won three of their last four.
NEXT UP: Howard closes out the season next Saturday at 1 pm in Greene Stadium...It will be Senior Day for 9 members of the team who will be playing their last game in a Bison uniform...Ceremonies get underway at 12:15 pm...B-CC will take on rival Florida A&M in its season finale in the Florida Classic in Orlando, FL next Saturday.