WASHINGTON, D.C. - Norfolk State put together its most complete game of the season, scoring on offense, defense and special teams to rout Howard University, 49-12 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Greene Stadium. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Norfolk State (3-6 overall, 2-4 in the MEAC) while the Bison (1-7 overall, 0-5 in the MEAC) dropped their fourth straight.
First the offense asserted itself when Dennis Brown scored from three yards out to cap off a 65-yard drive with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
With Howard unable to get anything going on offense, Norfolk State took charge. Brown finished off a 77 yard drive with a nine-yard toss to Jamar Johnson early in the second period. It was then the defense's turn to get into the act.. Corwin Hammond stepped in front of a Howard receiver and returned the Floyd Haigler pass 62 yards for the score.
"That interception return definitely changed the complexion of the game," said Howard Coach Carey Bailey. "We are not good enough to spot anyone 21 points and then be able to come back. And when you are a team like Norfolk State and you get a lead like that, you can take more chances. You get into a comfort zone."
DeAngelo Branch scored on a seven-yard run to up the margin to 28-0 at the 5:01 mark of the second quarter. Howard finally got on the board when Ramon McElrathbey zigzagged his way 24 yards to the end zone.
But any hopes of getting back in the game at the half were quickly dashed when Dwight Fluker-Berry returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards, giving the Spartans a comfortable 35-6 advantage at the half.
"I thought we played solid on offense and on defense to start the game," said Norfolk State Coach Pete Adrian. "But then we got some outstanding play from our special teams."
Adrian's point was well taken. On the Spartans' next possession, Fluker-Berry fielded a Patrick Wolff punt and worked his way 50 yards for a TD.
"We're just not very good right now," said Coach Bailey. "We have a lot of injuries, we have 11 red-shirt or true freshmen starting and we have only 43 players that we are playing. We have to find a way to get through this."
Haigler was 15 of 36 for 240 yards and a TD, but he was intercepted three times. Freshman Brandon Drayton had his best day as a collegian, grabbing five passes for 38 yards and accounted for 68 more yards on kick and punt returns.
Norfolk State was led by Branche, who led all rushers with 87 yards on 15 carries and a TD and Dennis Brown who completed 15 of 21 for 150 yards.
GAME NOTES: The returns by Fluker Berry marked the second time that a player has returned two for TDs in a game against the Bison...Kevin Teel of Hampton returned two kickoffs for TDs versus Howard...Hammond's interception return for a TD was the fourth time that an opponent has done that against the Bison...linebacker Patrick Jean Mary had his best day with 10 tackles and a tackle for a loss...Arando Jamison had his second straight fine outing with 10 tackles...Endor Cooper finished with seven tackles, but he missed most of the first half with a shoulder injury...Robert Parker, III joined the growing list of walking wounded when he re-injured his shoulder and missed all of the second half...the win was the first for NSU over the Bison at Howard since 1983...Four of Haigler's passes have been returned for TDs this season...Wolff was forced to punt 9 times, but he averaged a season-best 40 yards per punt...the Spartans did not turn the ball over.
NEXT UP: Norfolk State hosts Morgan State next week at 1 pm while the Bison will try to end their current skid when they travel to Orangeburg, SC to take on the league-leading Bulldogs of South Carolina State on Thursday at 7:30 pm on ESPNU.