Morgan takes Liberty, 34-28, in overtime Bears have winning mark for 1st time in 7 years

September 22, 1996|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was an unlikely scene at Morgan State's Hughes Stadium.

Huddled closely together after the game, the Bears danced, gave each other high-fives and just plain celebrated. Winning football came back to Morgan State.

Behind quarterback Otis Covington's 367 yards of total offense, Morgan State slid past Liberty, 34-28, in overtime yesterday afternoon before a crowd of 1,558. The Bears are 2-1 this season, their first winning record in seven seasons and second in a span of 14 years.

The victory avenged losses of 30 and 28 points over the past three years to the Flames, who were ranked preseason No. 9 in Division I-AA by Street & Smith's.

"It was satisfying because our players realized it was our planet and those other guys are just living here," said Morgan coach Stump Mitchell, who is in his first season. "From players 1 to 23, I have some of the best kids in the country."

And Covington, who had a hand in all five of Morgan's touchdowns, leads the list. Using his ability to produce in unsettled situations, Covington ran for 80 yards and a touchdown and threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns, which tied a school single-game record.

On the first play of overtime, Covington hit Tyrone Smith on a 25-yard slant in the end zone to give the Bears a 34-28 lead. Shane Griffiths' point-after kick was blocked, which allowed Liberty a chance to win the game with a touchdown and extra point.

Rushing four times, the Flames (1-3) moved the ball to Morgan's 6-yard line. But on third and fourth downs, Liberty wide receiver Andrew McFadden dropped back-to-back passes while wide open on the 1-yard line.

"We made the plays, not the catches," said Liberty coach Sam Rutigliano, who coached the Cleveland Browns from 1978 to 1984.

The Bears came back twice, once down by 14 points and another by eight. Trailing 21-13 in the fourth quarter, Covington came back at quarterback after a rest and reeled off five straight completions, including a 12-yard pass to Smith and a bullet to Chris Small for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 21 with 11 1/2 minutes to play.

Liberty then set up Morgan to take its first lead when the Flames' Ben Anderson was intercepted by Charles Fields at Liberty's 21. Three plays later, Covington scampered in from 9 yards out as the Bears took a 28-21 lead.

The Flames came right back when Lawrence Worthington (Edgewood) dove in from 2 yards to tie the game at 28 with 1: 35 remaining.

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Cheyney

Site: Cheyney Stadium, Cheyney, Pa.

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 0-3

Yesterday: Lost to Bowie State, 10-9.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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