Morgan makes Central work for win Bears fall short, 18-17, in Mitchell coaching debut

September 01, 1996|By Nick Jezierny | Nick Jezierny,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Morgan State program hasn't had a winning season since 1969, but don't expect rookie coach Stump Mitchell to seek out moral victories for his team.

The Bears dropped their season opener, 18-17, to perennial NAIA power Central State yesterday in the Capital City Classic before 12,500 at Ohio Stadium.

"We didn't play well," Mitchell said. "We knew we needed to play well in order to win the game. Central State is a good football team. But we were in the game and had an opportunity to win. We just didn't make it happen. We should have won the game."

The Bears started the game brilliantly. Sophomore Ralph Jones took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to give Morgan State a 7-0 lead.

"That was a very big boost for us," quarterback Otis Covington said. "Coach Mitchell told us Friday it was going to happen."

The kickoff return shocked Central State coach Jack Bush, who said his team may have been a bit overconfident against the Bears, a 1-11 team last season.

"Those kinds of teams are the most dangerous," he said. "All of the sudden our kids realized they were in a ballgame."

Central State used two scoring passes to take a 12-7 lead before Daryl Ray's 2-yard end run put Morgan State ahead 14-12 with 1: 12 left in the half.

With the Marauders apparently ready to kill the clock and head into the half to regroup, Mitchell elected to take a timeout in hopes of getting the ball back and another chance to score. The VTC move backfired.

Central State quarterback Kezon McNeil lofted a long pass that bounced off two Morgan State defenders and into the hands of receiver Alonzo Johnson, who sprinted the final 40 yards untouched to complete a 70-yard scoring play.

Morgan State put together a drive in the third quarter that was capped by Shane Griffiths' 22-yard field goal to close to 18-17, but neither team threatened the rest of the way.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Bethune-Cookman

Site: Hughes Stadium When: Sept. 14, 1: 30 p.m.

Record: 0-1

4( Yesterday: Lost to Morehouse, 24-20.

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