NORFOLK, Va. -- There were occasional flashes of promise, but for the most part things went the same as always for Morgan State, as it absorbed a 27-9 beating from Norfolk State before 11,238 last night at Foreman Field.
Michael Andrews had a superior kicking game (a 41-yard field goal and a 42.7 average on nine punts) and sophomore Mario Rivers returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown, but otherwise the Bears spent most of the game shooting themselves in the foot and getting burned in the secondary.
Down 13-3 after a mistake-filled first half, Morgan State surrendered a touchdown in the first three minutes of the third period.
Gary Morris (City College), a 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver, went up over two defenders to catch a deflected pass at the goal line from sophomore backup quarterback Kermit Buggs -- who replaced starter Lawrence Bryant in the first quarter.
On his next series, Buggs threw into the right flat, and Rivers picked it off with an open field in front of him.
Norfolk State added its final score in the fourth quarter on a 58-yard pass from Buggs to Cherry, the wide receiver breaking clear of a defender at the 35 and going in untouched.
The Morgan State defensive line, led by sophomore Matthew Steeple (6-3, 275) with 10 tackles, did a solid job of harassing Buggs and containing 228-pound fullback Lawrence Pinkney, but just when there was a glimmer of hope, a Morgan penalty or a significant pass completion by the Spartans.
"We knew Morgan would keep good defensive pressure on us, and we wanted to keep the same kind of pressure on them," Norfolk State coach Willard Bailey said. "We knew if we let their quarterback [freshman Michael Moore] get some time, he could hurt us.
"We were also concerned with Glenny Moore. We think he is one of the best receivers in the country, and we couldn't let them get the ball to him. Our defensive pressure was the key to this one."
Morgan coach Ricky Diggs had no answer for the breakdowns.
"I kind of had the idea that after a week [after the last game], we'd come around," Diggs said. "But those old habits are hard to break."
And not only are they old habits, but also bad ones.
"I just don't think we believe we're good enough to play with these teams," Diggs said. "We need that confidence. We aren't changing anything, though. We're going to live and die with it [his run-and-shoot offense]. We'll keep working, get the reps [repetitive drills], because when we do what we're supposed to, this thing will work."
Outweighed an average of 16 pounds a man, Morgan's offensive line never had a chance against the bigger, more experienced Spartans (10 seniors with starting experience in their defensive unit).
Michael Moore took a physical pounding, leaving for two series in the middle of the first half with a knee injury, but returning to finish the game.
Senior Scott Nelson, a starting offensive guard from Randallstown, was not so fortunate, going down in the first half with a knee injury. He was on crutches at the half, and X-rays will be needed to determine the damage.
NOTES: Gary Morris, son of former Morgan State coach Tom Morris, finished with 4 catches for 135 yards for Norfolk. A week ago, he had 4 for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns . . . Each side had 7 sacks. Morgan had 7 tackles for losses, Norfolk 13. The teams
combined to lose 199 yards rushing.