MIAMI -- Morgan State head coach Ed Wyche is looking beyond the score these days.
After the winless Bears dropped a 31-15 decision to Florida A& yesterday, he said: "There is such a thing as momentum. That second half was the best we've played all year."
In that second half, the Bears shut out Florida A&M and scored 15 points to turn a rout into a loss that Wyche hopes to build on.
The Bears have an 0-9 overall record and are 0-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. But in this 58th Orange
Blossom Classic, played before 12,191, Wyche felt his young team might have made some gains.
"It's very difficult to overcome 31 points," Wyche said of Florida A&M's halftime lead, "but I feel I reached some of our young players individually in that second half."
In the first half, Florida A&M (5-3, 4-0) dominated a Bears team that is ranked last in four Division I-AA team categories. The Rattlers scored on three of their first four possessions to build a 17-0 lead. Florida A&M quarterback Tony Ezell's 43-yard touchdown pass to James Thurman for that margin gave Ezell the school career touchdown record at 32.
After Ezell scored on a 1-yard keeper later in the half, Florida A&M coach Ken Riley pulled him for backup Travis Green, who threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to J.R. Reed for the first-half lead.
But from then on, the Rattlers went flat, and the Bears tried to come back.
The Bears scored with 4 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third quarter on Nate Ayers' 7-yard run after he picked up quarterback David Partin's fumble.
Ayers gave the Bears their only other touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Chris Wilder threw to Maurice Revels for the two-point conversion to make it 31-15.
Partin, who is Morgan State's fourth quarterback this season, completed 10 of 24 passes for 109 yards, but three of his passes were intercepted.
Morgan State.. 0... 0... 7... 8 -- 15
Florida A&M... 17.. 14.. 0... 0 -- 31
FAM--Vertuno 26 FG
FAM--Jones 1 run (Vertuno kick)
FAM--Thurman 43 pass from Ezell (Vertuno kick)
FAM--Ezell 1 run (Vertuno kick)
FAM--Reed 20 pass from Green (Vertuno kick)
MSU--Ayers 7 run (Andrews kick)
MSU--Ayers 1 run (Revels pass from Wilder)
MSU FAM First downs 1518
Return yards 772
RUSHING--Morgan St., Ayers 23-89, Simmons 9-39, Partin 6-19. Florida A&M, Reddick 13-114, Rasul 20-91, Jones 4-13, Ezell 3-15.
PASSING--Morgan St., Partin 10-24-109-3. Florida A&M, Ezell 7-17-85-0, Green 3-3-33-0.
RECEIVING--Morgan St., Ayers 4-41, Nelson 2-19, Bland 3-23, James 1-26. Florida A&M, Wynn 2-10, Thurman 2-47, Davis 1-21, Reed 1-20.