Morgan State at home on the road, shocks Florida A&M, 24-20

October 30, 1994|By Dan Ryan | Dan Ryan,Special to The Sun

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Morgan State's normally hasty post-game exit to its locker room turned into a massive lawn party in the Bragg Memorial Stadium end zone yesterday.

"God, we love this place," said Bears defensive back Marcus Kome gay amid the hugging and celebrating of a 24-20 victory over Florida A&M that sent a homecoming crowd of 30,858 out of the stands in disbelief.

As the crowd left, the Bears continued partying. Nobody could blame them.

"Well, we messed up our homecoming [a 50-21 loss to Delaware State last week]," said quarterback Michael Moore. "So we decided to mess up theirs."

Before yesterday the Bears had not won a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference road game since rejoining the league in 1985 (Morgan did beat Bethune-Cookman in 1989, but later had to forfeit). The win also broke a 16-game conference losing streak.

"Huge, as far as the program goes," said Morgan coach Ricky Diggs. "No doubt, practice is going to be a lot easier this week. None of the guys knew what it takes to win. Now the thing is to do it two weeks in a row.

"I'm the happiest I've ever been," said senior defensive end Monjah Brown. "This is the biggest victory for us. Everyone told the seniors they would get a win for us and they did."

Moore's 49-yard pass to Chris Ursuni on a fourth-down situation with 9:29 remaining put the Bears ahead for good just when they appeared to be heading for yet another loss.

Florida A&M led 14-0 after the first two minutes.

"Fourteen-nothing? That's an advantage for us," kidded Diggs, whose team has been outscored 108-16 in the first quarter this year. "Usually we're down 28-0 or something. As long as we kept it close, we knew we could stay in the game."

How did they?

* Moore completed only 12 passes for 276 yards, but took advantage of Florida A&M's linebackers overplaying the corner for a wide-open middle. Ursuni's game-winner came on a simple crossing pattern.

"We ran a play that was supposed to open up the corners," Ursuni said. "But the linebackers were overplaying. I just caught and ran."

They [Florida A&M] stayed in a basic defense," Diggs said. "They didn't do a lot of adjusting."

* Some decent defense. The Bears hadn't stopped anyone on the ground before yesterday, but limited Florida A&M to a respectable 232 yards.

FAMU's Sha-Mail Simpkins had a big first half with 108 yards, but a bruised shoulder limited his second-half action. He finished with 120. No other Rattler back took up the slack.

The Bears' defense made two fourth-down stops and kept the Rattlers from mounting any sort of consistency. Both of Florida A&M's touchdown drives were less than 30 yards.

"We didn't miss as many tackles as we usually do," Diggs said. "I thought we were aggressive and took the game to them."

* FAMU quarterback trouble. With starter Ray Domingo out for the season, coach Billy Joe had to use unproven Ernest Cooper as his starter. Cooper was replaced at halftime by Erick Hawkins, but returned for the Rattlers' last drive.

The Rattlers moved to the Morgan 21 in the final minute, but Cooper overthrew Anthony Bland on fourth down with 49 seconds left.

"We have some shortcomings that need addressing," Joe said. "I thought Hawkins could make something happen and that we needed a change."

For a while, the Rattlers looked as if they wouldn't need anything. The Rattlers went ahead 7-0 when Jay Young returned a punt 71 yards. After a Bears fumble gave FAMU the ball on the Morgan 23, Simpkins scored on a 10-yard run three plays later.

Morgan got on the scoreboard with a 12-play drive that resulted in Shane Griffith's 38-yard field goal with 6:21 remaining in the first quarter. The Bears narrowed it to 14-10 on a 38-yard Moore-to-D'Anthony Cameron pass with 5:39 remaining in the second quarter.

The Bears had a chance to go ahead before halftime, but Moore was stopped on fourth down inside the Florida A&M 20.

Darryl Ray scored the other Morgan State touchdown on a 4-yard run in the third quarter.

NEXT FOR MORGAN

Who: Samford

When: Saturday, at Hughes Stadium

Record: 2-5-1

Yesterday: Tied Alcorn State, 45-45

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