McGhee, Defense Lead Howard To OT Win Over NC A&T
Washington, DC—October 22--Terrance Leffall scored from three yards in overtime and the defense made a key stop on a goal line stand to help Howard pull out a thrilling, 35-28 win over North Carolina A&T in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before an overflow homecoming crowd at Greene Stadium.
The Bison (4-4 overall, 3-2 in the MEAC) got the ball on the first possession at the 25-yard line. After Leffall picked up two yards on first down, Greg McGhee converted a big third down pass to Brandon Flanagan for 15 yards that gave Howard a first and goal at the Aggies' 8-yard line. McGhee then rushed for five yards to the NC A&T three-yards line. Leffall powered his way into the end zone and scored standing up to make it 34-28. Parker Munoz converted the PAT.
On NC A&T's possession, they were able to get to the Howard three-yards line following an 11-yard pass from Lewis Kindle to Tony Coles. From there, the Bison defense came up with the big plays. First Mike Mayhew lost a yard on first and goal. Following a timeout, Sackie Kerkulah forced Kindle into a hurried pass attempt that was broken up by Lanny Kelly. Then on fourth and goal, Kerkulah made the play of the game, stopping Kindle short of the goal at the one-yard line to set up a big celebration by the Bison.
"I knew that we had to come up big if we were going to win," said Kerkulah. "The opportunity came and I made the play."
Added Kindle, "On the last play, we had a pass play called. They had it covered pretty well. I thought I could get into the end zone. He made a good play."
Howard set the tone early by utilizing Leffall's running and the short passing game of McGhee. The Bison put together a 10-play, 45-yard drive that consumed almost four minutes, but penalties, which would plague Howard all game, forced them to settle for a 33-yard Munoz field goal at the 9:14 mark of the first quarter.
Both defenses stiffened and the quarter ended with the Bison clinging to a 3-0 lead.
A combination of some tough defense by Howard and a rash of penalties prevented either team from sustaining any drives until the Bison were able to take advantage of some good field position following a poor punt by NC A&T. McGhee engineered a seven-play, 49-yard drive that was capped off with a six-yard TD pass to Willie Carter. Munoz split the uprights and the Bison led 10-0 with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter.
Howard would tack on another three points when Munoz hit a 32-yard field goal before the half to give his team a 13-0 advantage at the half. It marked the first time that the sophomore placekicker has kicked two field goals in a game.
Much of Howard's success at the half came as a result of the defensive job that was done of the Aggies' outstanding running back Mayhew who was limited to 34 yards on 13 carries.
"We were able to do slow Mike down by taking away his lanes and the things he is good at," said Howard linebacker Keith Pough, who had 3.5 tackles for losses. "He is great back and you have to stay disciplined or he will make you pay. I thought we did a great job on him."
On the Aggies' opening possession of the second half, they responded early to set the tone when they capitalized on some poor punting by Howard and used a short drive to get within 13-7 at the 11:29 mark of the third quarter. Mayhew capped it off with a one-yard plunge.
That score appeared to motivate the Aggies as they forced the Bison into three and outs. The Bison aided and abetted NC A&T's cause when punter Bryan Jackson dropped the snap and gave the Aggies a short field. On the first play, Kindle connected with Wallace Miles to give NC A&T its first lead at 14-13 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
"A&T gained the momentum after the half and that happens," explained Howard first year head coach Gary Harrell. "But I am confident in my team and I know that we can win games."
McGhee, who had perhaps the best game of his young career, answered the challenge, taking his team on a 10-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off with a 16-yard strike to Brandon Drayton. McGhee then connected with Carter for the two-point conversion as the Bison regained the lead at 21-14 with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter.
It did not take the Aggies long to respond. In fact, it took all of two plays and 35 seconds for them to tie the game at 21l. Mayhew did most of the damage with a 66-yard jaunt, bursting through the right side of the Bison defense and then racing untouched to the end zone.
Howard, needing something to match the A&T score, got it from an unexpected source. Freshman Aquanius Freeman took the Aggies kickoff, found a seam in the NC A&T's coverage, cut to the left sideline and raced 82 yards for the first TD of his career.
But the resilient Aggies, who came into the game riding a three-game win streak and undefeated in conference play (4-3 overall, 3-1 in the MEAC), came right back less than three minutes later when Ricky Lewis scored from three yards to tie the game again at 28 with 6:50 left.
Neither team was able to do much until the Bison had a potential game-winning drive that was aborted with a Andra Williams' fumble that turned the ball over to NC A&T and gave them a chance for the win.