Fumble Return For TD Dooms Howard
Fumble Return for TD Dooms Howard In OT
Washington, DC-October 14-Jerrell Guyton and Everett Baker collaborated on a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the second overtime to give Morgan State a dramatic, 18-12 win over Howard University in a wild and wooly Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference affair at Greene Stadium before an overflow homecoming crowd.
The decisive play was set up when the Bison (1-5 overall, 0-3 in the MEAC) drove to the Bears' one-yard line. On first-and-goal, Howard quarterback Will Blanden attempted a sneak off the left side and appeared to break the "imaginary plane" at the goal line that determines whether a player has scored a TD. After what seemed like a moment frozen in time, Guyton emerged from the pile and started up field as the Howard players and the officials watched the play. Guyton ran 20 yards and then lateraled to Baker, who raced the final 79 yards and set off a wild celebration on the Morgan State sideline.
"I figured one or two things happened," said a visibly dejected Howard Coach Ray Petty. "One, we scored, and, if we didn't score, his (Blanden) forward progress was stopped and there was no whistle."
The Bison had stopped the Bears on their possession, setting up the potential game-winning drive. But as has been the case in a season filled with frustration, Howard found yet another way to lose.
"We have to go back to work," said Petty. "North Carolina A&T will still be there next week. We have to find a way to score more points and improve on special teams."
The defense, which played one of its best games in recent years, set the tone early when senior tackle Edwin Piner tackled Morgan State running back Chad Simpson for a safety.
The offense had troubles early in the game under quarterback Brian Johnson, who was starting his first game. But the defense continued to stand tall and forced the potent Morgan State offense into two field goals to trail only 6-2 at halftime.
Howard gained some new life, however when Johnson connected with Ulysses Alexander from 26 yards out for his first career TD pass, but more importantly a 9-6 lead late in the third quarter.
The Bison stopped the Bears, but a fine punt by Earl Johnson pinned them down inside their 9-yard line. Howard responded and put together its second longest drive of the season, 86 yards on 11 plays. But a couple of missed assignments stalled the drive and forced a 23-yard field goal by freshman Dennis Wiehberg. The Bison led, 12-6 with 6:56 remaining.
Feeling close to victory, Howard relaxed and it almost cost them when Simpson returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the Bison 9-yard. Howard senior cotnerback Geoff Pope, who has been clocked at 4.29 in the 40, ran down the speedy Simpson at the 9-yard line. It would prove to be a big play later when the defense held on downs.
"They're so committed," praised Petty. "This unit has been outstanding for three years and today they played an outstanding game."
Howard failed to move the ball on its next possession and Morgan State (4-3, 3-1 in the MEAC) took advantage by going 63 yards in 7 plays in a little less than two minutes. Rodrick Wolfe (8 receptions, 106 yards, 1 TD) capped off the drive with a 7yard TD pass from Mario Melton (16 of 32, 172 yards). But Jonathan Skeet's PAT attempt was blocked by Rickey Jackson, leaving the game deadlocked at 12-all and sending it into extra periods.
Both teams squandered opportunities in the first overtime, Howard missing a 35-yard field and Morgan State turning the ball over on downs to the Bison on fourth down.
"We fought hard today," explained Howard senior running back Antoine Rutherford. "The defense got some big stops, but we came up short."
GAME NOTES: Howard limited Morgan State to 34 yards rushing only 206 yards of total offense...senior defensive linemen Rudy Hardie (9 tackles, 3.5 for losses) and Edwin Piner (6 tackles, 2 for losses) both had the best games of their career as did junior defensive back Rickey Jackson, who had two key specials teams plays.
NEXT UP: Morgan State hosts Delaware State for its homecoming next Saturday while the Bison travel to Greensboro, NC to take on rival North Carolina A&T for its homecoming next Saturday at 1:30 pm.