If you're going to watch football in the kind of cool, wet, sloppy conditions that reigned yesterday, you might as well get something memorable for your perseverance.
Howard and Morgan State certainly obliged the soggy spectators, piling up enough points and yardage to reduce any talk of defense to just that -- talk.
In the end, Howard's offense out-slugged Morgan State's, 66-37, in a game that was suspended with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter because it was too dark at lightless Hughes Stadium.
By the time the game was called at 4:55 p.m., Morgan State and Howard had combined for 103 points, 1,028 total offensive yards, 53 first downs and 153 offensive plays.
"I'm not going to apologize for a win," said Howard coach Steve Wilson. "If it's 66-65, I just hope we have 66. They [Morgan State] know what they're doing throwing the football. I'm just glad we know what we're doing."
Bison quarterback Jay "Sky" Walker, who has rolled up impressive numbers all year, did more of the same yesterday against Morgan's porous defense, completing 29 of 54 passes for 433 yards and three touchdowns.
Howard receiver Gary Harrell was Walker's principal target, with 11 catches for 174 yards and one touchdown.
The Morgan passers, seniors Orlando Persell and Maurice Chase, were nearly as successful, combining to complete 20 passes in 35 attempts for 315 yards and three touchdowns as they split duties.
Morgan running back Tony Phillips did his part, running for 66 yards and one touchdown, catching four passes for 83 yards and two scores, and running back a kickoff for 85 yards and a fourth touchdown.
But Phillips, Chase and Persell were ultimately betrayed by the Bears defense, which couldn't stop Howard at critical moments.
"I've been in shootouts before," said Morgan coach Ricky Diggs. "The team that usually wins these games is the one that can stop the other team when it has to. We just gave up too many big plays and they made them. That's the mark of a good team."
The Bison (10-0, 5-0) clinched at least a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title with the win, their 13th straight. The Bears (2-8, 0-6) lost their sixth in a row.
The two offenses began scoring on each other from the opening kickoff and were seemingly halted only by the end of the half and the game, not by the opposing defense.
In one exchange in the first quarter, the Bears and Bison combined to score four touchdowns on five total plays over a span of 1:31.
The Bison initiated the offensive party with a 1-yard plunge by fullback Rupert Grant with 13:08 left in the quarter.
However, on the Bears' second play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, Chase found Phillips on the left sideline on a screen pass, and the senior running back rumbled 57 yards for a touchdown with 12:11 remaining in the first.
Not to be outdone, Harrell, who later in the day set a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference single-season record with his 68th catch of the year, took a handoff on the first play after the kickoff and weaved through the Morgan defense for an 80-yard run. The extra-point try was blocked, but that was the only meaningful Howard offense surge Morgan could stop.
But Phillips ran the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards, nearly stumbling over his own men, to give Morgan a 14-13 lead with 11:37 left in the quarter.
But the Bison effectively settled matters by scoring three touchdowns in the second period and two in the fourth, while shutting out Morgan in those quarters.
NEXT FOR MORGAN: TOWSON STATE
When: Saturday, at Hughes Stadium
Yesterday: Beat Bucknell, 49-21.