Morgan makes it respectable, falls, 22-13

September 25, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

A week earlier, Morgan State had suffered the second worst defeat in its football history, 87-12, to Grambling at Memorial Stadium.

So coach Ricky Diggs made some lineup changes for yesterday's game against Knoxville in an effort to jump-start the Bears' offense and batten down the defense.

The moves helped, but not enough. Breakdowns in the punting game, inconsistency on offense and big plays by Knoxville foiled the winless Bears yesterday, and they dropped their third straight, 22-13, before 1,005 at Hughes Stadium.

It was a penalty-filled game in which the Division III Bulldogs overcame 22 penalties for 254 yards to win for the first time in four starts.

Knoxville drew five flags for unsportsmanlike conduct, including two on one play, a Bulldogs interception and return that was walked back 45 yards for three penalties.

"The penalties balanced out. They happened on both sides of the ball," said Diggs, whose team lost 91 yards on 11 penalties. "I can't really say they had anything to do with the outcome."

The Bears had some good things happen to them for once. They led for the only time all season when quarterback Michael Moore came off the bench for the final series of the first half and tossed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Donte Carter with 12 seconds remaining.

Shane Griffith's extra point gave Morgan a 7-6 halftime lead.

The defense had played respectably after allowing Terrell Bellamy to streak behind it for a 70-yard touchdown catch from Gordon Screen for the game's first score.

Morgan's defense rose up again in the third period when it stopped Knoxville after a grueling 20-play drive to the Bears' 4.

But, after the Bears couldn't move, Arthur Triggs' punt went almost straight into the air and Knoxville took over at the Morgan 22.

Six plays later, the Bulldogs took a 14-7 lead on backup quarterback Screen's pass to Stephen Thompson from the 6 and a two-point conversion pass from Screen to Joe Barr.

That was the beginning of the end. On the next Morgan series, Arthur Haggard blocked Triggs' punt following a low snap, picked up the ball at the Bears' 33 and went untouched into the end zone. A two-point conversion run by Shango Cook made it 22-7.

"He didn't even try to punt the ball," said Diggs of Triggs. "He just laid it out there. Sure, there was a breakdown in blocking somewhere, but you have to try to kick it."

Morgan had one last gasp, converting a Thaddeus Singletary interception into a 1-yard sneak by Moore with 10:29 left in the game. But a two-point attempt failed -- holder Adam Pitcher tried to run it in off a fake -- and the Bears went nowhere on their final three possessions.

Morgan's quarterback change from Moore to Pitcher had mixed results. The offense was slightly improved, but it took the insertion of Moore to get the Bears on the board.

"We just don't have the big-play people we used to have," said Diggs. "We have to sustain drives and hold onto the ball. We moved it better, but weren't consistent.

"Unfortunately, this is a game we should have won. I know I'll look at the film and see some pluses, but we'll just have to find out what's going on and pick up the pieces."

Knoxville ....... 0 .. 6 .. 8 .. 8 .. -- .. 22

Morgan State .... 0 .. 7 .. 0 .. 6 .. -- .. 13

NEXT FOR MORGAN

Who: Charleston Southern

When: Saturday, at Charleston, S.C.

Record: 0-3

5) Yesterday: Lost to Towson State, 51-0

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