Howard Wages Strong Battle But Falls Short in Loss To Bethune-Cookman
Daytona Beach, FL—November 13—Howard University spotted Bethune-Cookman 21 points and then battled to within one possession before succumbing, to the undefeated Wildcats in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Municipal Stadium.
Bethune-Cookman (10-0 overall, 7-0 in the MEAC) came into the game leading many offensive and defensive statistical categories, jumped out early, going 62 yards in six plays with Jonathan Moment scoring from a yard out.
The Wildcats added their second TD following one of five Bison turnovers on the day. It took one play for quarterback Matt Johnson to capitalize as he found Eddie Poole from 15 yards to open a 14-0 lead.
From there, Howard (1-9, 0-7 MEAC) settled in and controlled the high-powered Wildcat attack, featuring a spirited goal line stand and an interception that stopped a potential scoring drive.
With a chance to be within striking distance going into the half, the Bison committed a crucial turnover. Pinned deep in its own territory, Howard fumbled a pitchout and Bethune-Cookman's Jarkevis Fields recovered to give the hosts what appeared to be a comfortable 21-0 lead at the half.
Howard began to work its way back into the game in the third quarter that featured a number of drive-stopping penalties and defensive stops. But the Bison were able to get on the board when reserve red-shirt freshman quarterback Terry Bradden engineered a 6-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off with a 27-yard catch and run by Daley Gunter. The Bison missed the PAT to trail, 21-6.
The Howard defense continued its spirited play and refused to fold under the pressure of the Wildcats' quick paced Spread offense. The Howard offense, riding the play of the defense, came alive when Willie Carter made a spectacular catch of a Bradden pass for a 41-yard TD. The conversion attempt again failed but the Bison climbed to within 21-12 with nearly a quarter of play left.
Howard looked to be in the upset mode as it continued to stymie the Bethune-Cookman offense. But the resilient Wildcats turned opportunistic again when Reggie Sandilands returned a Bradden pass 26 yards for a TD to up the score to 28-12.
The Bison again fought back and responded when Bradden, who had his best day as a collegian, directed a 64 yard drive in just 1:16, finding Brandon Drayton from 24 yards for his third TD pass of the day to close the deficit to 28-20 with 1:18 in the fourth period.
But Bethune-Cookman was not to be denied their bid for a MEAC title when Poole returned an onside Howard kick attempt 37 yards for a TD to close out the scoring and secure at least a tie for the title.
The Bison rolled up a season-high 409 yards of total offense against the Wildcats defense which was ranked high in several conference defensive categories. Justin Duncan led all rushers with 78 yards on 12 carries. Bradden, a red-shirt freshman, completed 15 of 31 for a career-best 299 yards and three TDs.
Willie Carter had a sterling day grabbing 4 passes for 117 yards and TD. The talented All-MEAC performer drew at least three interference calls from frustrated Wildcat defenders. Daley Gunter, who has come on strong of late, had a career day with 111 yards receiving and a TD. It marked the first time that Howard has had two receivers go over the century mark in 10 years.
The Wildcats were held to under 200 yards of total offense, but in the end, their ability to force 5 turnovers, two of which went for scores, proved to be the difference.