Next year came almost immediately for Michael Moore.
Moore, a freshman from Toledo, Ohio, became the starting quarterback for Morgan State when the projected starter, sophomore David Partin, dislocated his left shoulder in a scrimmage last week.
Moore, 6 feet 1, 180 pounds, guided the Bears to a surprising 7-6 halftime lead over North Carolina A&T, before the visitors cranked up their offense for three third-quarter scores and a 26-7 victory before 9,451 yesterday at Hughes Stadium.
"I certainly didn't expect to play this soon," Moore said. "Maybe late in the season or next year, but not now.
"It was more a mental week than a physical one to get ready. Learning defenses, making the right calls, pre-game jitters, those sorts of things. After the first couple of hits, I was OK."
Moore was working against a defensive front four that averages 6-3, 277 pounds, including senior Reggie White (6-4, 300) out of Milford Mill High School. "It was a big line to throw over," Moore said.
Morgan's first-year head coach, Ricky Diggs, thought Moore held his own under the circumstances.
"I thought he kept his poise real well," Diggs said. "The offensive linemen were hitting the people they were supposed to hit, but the protection wasn't aggressive enough."
Moore finished with three completions and two interceptions in 13 attempts and ran 16 times for a net total of 23 yards, but his 38-yard -- set up the Bears' second-quarter touchdown.
In the opening quarter, it had appeared that the same old Morgan team (1-10 last year and a 49-0 loser to the Aggies) had come to play. North Carolina A&T scored on its first series, and the Bears turned the ball over on a first-down fumble and a first-down interception, with Aggies defender Alonzo Barnett getting both of them.
Unlike the old Morgan, however, the defense did a good job of containing the visitors. When senior Nathan Ayers followed Moore's long run with a slant outside for 6 untouched yards behind a clearing block from James Ledbetter, it was a 6-6 game.
Michael Andrews' point after kick gave Morgan a one-point lead with 1 minute, 32 seconds left in the half.
The 96-degree heat and high humidity, plus the disadvantage in size and numbers, took a toll on Morgan State in the third #F quarter.
A&T quarterback Connell Maynor, last year's offensive player of the year in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, directed three scoring drives in as many possessions to put the game away.
"Earlier in the game, we were hitting their gaps and blitzing, but in the third quarter, they just went toe-to-toe with us," Diggs said.
Referring to the difference between the second and third periods, Diggs pointed out, "We are just not mature enough to put a half like that behind us and utilize the momentum to take us into the second half. And then we screwed up some things to help them."
Senior linebacker Reno Lucas put the effort and the possibility of a new image for this team in perspective when he said, "The
coaches and the team were not satisfied. We have come too far and worked too hard. This is only one [game] out of 11. Now, we have something to build on."
NOTES -- Morgan's defensive leaders included DB Eddie Hill, with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery; LB Vincent Ward, 11 tackles, and LB Lucas, 10; DB Mario Rivers, 10 tackles; and DT Matthew Steeple, 9 tackles . . . Morgan State's Sean Nelson, a teammate of White's at Milford Mill, had a fumble recovery at the A&T 13 in the fourth quarter, but that turned out ot be the
deepest penetration of that series.