The outcome was familiar, but the product wasn't.
Morgan State lost another game yesterday, 21-6, to South Carolina State before 7,231 at Hughes Stadium, but the winless Golden Bears displayed proficiency both blocking and tackling, lost arts in the program in recent years.
Subtract a handful of Morgan State mistakes, and the Bulldogs might not have maintained their status as the lone unbeaten in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
South Carolina State is 5-0 overall, 2-0 in the MEAC. Morgan State is 0-6, including 0-3 in the conference, and the Golden Bears of first-year coach Ricky Diggs needed even a moral victory after being bombed by a combined 113-28 in their previous two outings, both on the road against nationally ranked opponents.
Morgan State got field goals of 41 and 37 yards from Michael Andrews and a strong, albeit blemished, effort from its young defense. South Carolina State went up 7-3 on an 85-yard pass play, courtesy of a slip by cornerback Mario Rivers, and penalties then helped the Bulldogs to a 14-6 halftime lead.
Morgan State was only 15 yards away from a possible tie before losing a fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter. South Carolina State responded with a clinching six-play, 82-yard scoring drive against a visibly tired defense.
"You could see their lack of depth hurt them in the second half," South Carolina State coach Willie Jeffries said. "Don't say we were flat, because Morgan State played better than we did. They took the game to us, and their defensive style gave us fits. If their quarterback hadn't been injured, they might have beaten us."
Freshman Michael Moore, the Golden Bears quarterback in their first five games, was absent with an injury, but Diggs was generally pleased with sophomore Maurice Chase, whose first collegiate start came against one of the top-rated defenses in Division I-AA.
Chase, from Great Mills High in southern Maryland, completed 12 of 24 passes for 190 yards, 8-for-12 and 137 in the second half. He had a shaky start, but calmed down after Andrews' first field goal, a 41-yarder with 6:37 left in the first quarter. It was preceded by a Matt Steeple fumble recovery and five straight carries by freshman Marchell Boston.
South Carolina State allowed a season-high 273 yards total offense to a unit averaging 158 a game, but Andrews provided the only other Morgan State points, a 37-yard field goal with 8:36 left. It was sandwiched in between two sequences that doomed the Golden Bears.
Five plays into the second quarter and with South Carolina State on its own 15, quarterback Robert Hemby rolled right and still had the ball when Rivers slipped, leaving Quincy Miller &r uncovered. The result was an 85-yard touchdown pass.
Four of the Bulldogs' 18 first downs came via penalty, and two of those occurred on their next scoring drive, a nine-play, 46-yard effort that finished with fullback Kenny Gaithers going 1 yard with 2:23 left in the half.
Chase connected with fellow sophomore Donte Carter for 32 yards to the Bulldogs' 15, but the quarterback fumbled the snap on the first play of the fourth quarter. Six plays and 82 yards later, Rodney Hunter completed the scoring, turning a quick sideline route into a 43-yard touchdown.