East Rutherford, NJ—September 24--Howard University dominated the statistics but in the end, turnovers proved to be too much to overcome as Howard University fell, 14-9 to Morgan State University in the New York Urban League Classic at MetLife Stadium before 24,996.
The Bison (1-3 overall, 0-2 in the MEAC) shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over six times including a fumble that was returned for the game’s first score.
Howard was able to set the tone early by moving the ball smartly up and down the field. But as has been the case through the early part of the season, the Bison were not able to capitalize. So the opportunistic Bears took advantage when Michael Dallas returned of three Greg McGhee fumbles for the game’s first score at the beginning of the second quarter.
“We need to throw the stats out the window and find ways to win,’ said Howard first year coach Gary Harrell. “We outgained Morgan in that category, but they won the game. We have to find ways as coaches to correct some of these problems and find ways to win these games.”
Morgan State (2-2 overall, 1-0 in the MEAC) took advantage of another Bison turnover a little over two minutes later when Kristin Johnson grabbed a three-yard pass from Robert Council to take a 14-0 lead to the locker room.
Howard made some adjustments at halftime that started to change the momentum of the game. Morgan State appeared content to sit on the lead with the Howard offense proving to be ineffective.
“We got off to a slow start and turned the ball over too many times,” said Harrell. “We made some adjustments at halftime and were able to gain some momentum. Unfortunately, that was not good enough. We have to learn how to play four quarters of football.”
So the Bison turned to its special teams for a play to get them going. DeCarlos Knight blocked a punt for the second straight game, this time resulting in a safety near the end of the third quarter that seemed to provide a spark.
After forcing a Morgan State turnover on its next possession, McGhee, Willie Carter and Terrance Leffall combined on a 68-yard, nine-play drive that cut the deficit to 14-9 with 12:44 in the fourth quarter.
But the Bison had two more possessions and got down deep in the Bears’ territory but each time, mistakes and mishaps doomed Howard to its 29th straight conference loss.
“Their young quarterback did some things to hurt us in the second half,” said Morgan State head coach Donald Hill-Eley. “He made some nice throws and was able to find holes in our defense. They moved the ball up and down the field, but in the end, we were able to stop them when it mattered. That last play was what Howard-Morgan State is all about. Anyone that knows anything about this rivalry, has seen many of these types of games in the past.”
McGhee completed 20 of 34 passes for 226 yards and a TD pass to Willie Carter who caught a season-high nine passes for 96 yards. With his seventh reception, the senior wide receiver from Denmark, SC moved into third place on the Howard all-time career list with 140 receptions.
“Greg McGhee is a freshman quarterback and he made some good plays and he made some bad plays,” said Coach Harrell. “He is getting better and I believe in him. We just have to put a system in place to take advantage of his talents.”
The loss overshadowed the efforts of red-shirt junior running back Terrance Lefall, who rushed –high 145 yards on 27 carries. He was named the Game MVP.
The Bison outgained the Bears, 375 to 187.