Howard Snaps Road Losing Streak in Win Over North Carolina A&T
Howard Shuts Out North Carolina A&T
Greensboro, NC-October 21-The Howard University defense, which has played well of late, got a big boost from the struggling offense and rolled to a 26-0 win over North Carolina A&T in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Aggie Stadium. The win snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Bison (2-5, 1-3 in the MEAC) while the Aggies (0-7, 0-4 in the MEAC) remain winless.
The Howard offense, which had scored only one TD in the last 8 quarters of play, set the tone on its first possession by going to a flea flicker that surprised North Carolina A&T. Freshman quarterback/wide receiver Michael Harper took a reverse from starting QB Brian Johnson, rolled to his right, and connected with senior wide receiver Larry Duncan for 50 yards, setting up a 26-yard TD pass from Johnson to wide receiver/quarterback Martin Decembert.
"It is something we worked on in practice all week," explained Howard Coach Ray Petty. "Harper is one of our six QBs, but he had been hurt since early in the season. We had three of our starting wide receivers out with injuries, so we had to rely on some reserves and they came through."
The Bison missed the PAT when the ball was snapped over Dennis Wiehberg's head.
On the Bison's next possession, Johnson took his team on an 11-play drive that covered 54 yards and used over 5 minutes off the clock. Senior running back Antoine Rutherford tried three times to punch it in from the one-yard line before finally getting paydirt on fourth down. Howard attempted a two-point conversion, but failed, making the score, 12-0.
The Bison all but put the game away on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that again used more than five minutes off the clock. This time red-shirt freshman quarterback Floyd Haigler engineered the drive, but it was Rutherford (14 carries, 49 yards 3 TDs), who finished it off with another one-yard plunge.
"Our offense finally put together some drives that used up the clock and gave our defense a chance to rest," said Rutherford. "They have played well most of the season and this was a chance to reward them for their efforts."
The Bison defense, which has allowed only two TDs in the last 8 quarters of play, limited the Aggies to 138 yards total offense, only 38 on the ground.
"We feel very good about this unit," said Howard senior linebacker Timothy Lockett, a team captain who was playing his last game in his hometown. "We feel we are one of the best defenses in the MEAC and regardless of what the offense does, we try to be consistent."
The North Carolina A&T offense had problems with the Bison defense all day and when they showed signs of moving the ball, they stopped drives with mistakes (10 penalties).
Howard closed out the scoring with another time-consuming drive, this one 74 yards on 11 plays. Again it used over five minutes and again, it was Rutherford, who capped it off with a one-yard dive.
"This was a good win after last week's loss," explained Petty on the heartbreaking, 18-12 double overtime loss to Morgan State at home. "I am very proud of the team and how they responded."
GAME NOTES: Senior wide receiver Larry Duncan had a career-high 8 receptions for 125 yards...the Bison had a perfect balance of a season-high 272 yards passing and 272 yards rushing...Johnson, in his second start, led all rushers with 76 yards while completing 10 of 14 passes...Harper, in his first action of the season, grabbed 4 passes for 43 yards...senior defensive linemen Rudy Hardie (2.5 tackles for losses) and Edwin Piner continue to play at a high level while the trio of linebackers Timothy Lockeett (6 tackles), Danual Pearce (8 tackles, an interception) and Robert Dowdy (7 tackles) continue to make a strong argument as the top linebacking corp in the MEAC...Howard dominated the time of possession by more than 10 minutes (35-24)..Howard shut out the Aggies, 16-0 last October at the Bison's homecoming.
NEXT UP: Howard hosts Norfolk State next Saturday at 1 pm in Greene Stadium.