WASHINGTON, D.C. - Dontavius Payne rushed for a career-high 113 yards and two touchdowns, Mike Mayhew added two more rushing TDs and North Carolina A&T took advantage of Howard University special teams miscues en route to a 30-19 win in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Greene Stadium before an overflow homecoming crowd of 7,086.
The Bison (2-5 overall, 0-4 in the MEAC) got on the board first after a special teams mistake by North Carolina A&T gave Howard good field position at midfield. It took the Bison six plays with freshman running back Andra Williams capping it off with a twisting, seven-yard run at the 8:05 mark.
The Aggies (5-3 overall, 3-2 in the MEAC) countered on their first possession of the second quarter when they put together a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Mayhew scored his first TD of the game from five yards out to tie the score at 7-7 with 12:43 left in the second period.
The Bison appeared to assume control of the game, capping off two short drives with field goals of 30 and 33 yards by Dennis Wiehberg to take a 13-7 lead to the locker room.
But the second half proved to be a disaster for the Bison special teams. Howard made a mental error on a kickoff that shifted the momentum and set the tone for the second half.
"The first play of the second half, we gave them a short field," said Howard Coach Carey Bailey. "In the first half, we were good at keeping them in long field position, but we gave them four possessions in the second half inside the 50 and another inside the 10-yard line. That is the story of the game."
It did not take NC A&T long to take advantage as Payne, a freshman running back from Tallahassee, FL finished off a 70-yard drive with a two-yard plunge to give the Aggies the lead at 14-13 at the 11:43 mark of the third quarter.
Capitalizing again on a Howard special team mistake, the Aggies upped the margin to 17-13 on a Wallace Miles 32-yard field goal.
Payne would later tack on another score, following yet another special team blunder when he scored from five yards to increase the margin to 24-13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
That is when the sky opened it began to pour down raining, affecting the play of both teams. The Bison were finally able to get a score when Floyd Haigler connected with Willie Carter on 32-yard catch and run play with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed and Howard trailed, 24-19.
An onside kick attempt was recovered by North Carolina A&T. The Aggies put the game away when Mayhew scored from 45 yards to close out the scoring.
"We are making critical mistakes at the wrong time from key people," said Coach Bailey. "When you have some of those key people making mistakes, that's how you lose the game."
GAME NOTES: Andra Williams had another fine game, rushing for 76 yards on 17 carries and his first career TD...Keith Pough collected 9 tackles, including three for losses...Ian Simon had another fine day with 7 tackles and a 15-yard return of a fumble that set up the first Bison TD...Will Croner returned from a one-game injury to have another sterling game with 7 tackles and a sack...in addition to catching 6 passes for 84 yards and TD, the talented sophomore returned four punts for 40 yards and a kickoff for 23...
NEXT UP: North Carolina A&T hosts Bethune-Cookman for its homecoming next Saturday at 1:30 pm while the Bison will try to snap a three-game losing when they travel to Norfolk, VA to take on the Spartans of Norfolk State at 1 pm.