Fla. A&M hammers Morgan State, 83-12 Rattlers hand Bears their 2nd-worst loss

November 03, 1996|By Dan Ryan | Dan Ryan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Last year, former Morgan State coach Ricky Diggs demanded an apology from Florida A&M coach Billy Joe for running up the score in the Rattlers' 47-9 homecoming victory. He didn't get it.

Good thing Diggs wasn't around yesterday.

Florida A&M 83, Morgan State 12.

It was as much of a rout as the score indicates -- the typical homecoming blowout taken to a new height.

It was the Bears' fifth consecutive loss after a promising 3-0 start. But it was the way Morgan State lost that brought back memories of the days of being the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference doormat and ideal homecoming opponent.

First-year coach Stump Mitchell's reaction was far different from that of Diggs. In fact, when the halftime festivities extended beyond the allotted 20 minutes, Mitchell waived a 15-yard delay-of-game penalty. By then, it was 69-0.

"We were outclassed," Mitchell said. "Totally. They have better athletes, more depth. They did exactly what they had to do."

It won't go down as the worst loss in Morgan State history -- Grambling State posted an 87-12 decision back in 1994. Still, it hurts.

"I hated losing 18-17 to Central State and I hate this the same way," Mitchell said. "I don't want to see this kind of embarrassment inflicted on the university. I'm sorry it happened. This will make recruiting a little tougher."

On the other sideline, Joe faced Mitchell's dilemma in reverse. He kept his starters on the bench the entire second half and instructed his coaches "to make sure the players didn't check off do anything unprofessional."

In fact, Joe admitted he was "very,very happy" that the Rattlers (8-1) managed just two second-half touchdowns after a 69-point explosion that fell four points shy of the NCAA I-AA record set by Montana State in the first half against East Oregon in 1985.

"You don't want to score 100 on anybody or have anyone put 100 on you," Joe said. "I was thinking about Coach Diggs as the game went along. And I didn't want it to happen to Stump, who is a class act."

How does a team put so many points on the board? Consider:

The defense scored one touchdown and set up five more with turnovers. The Rattlers started two possessions at the Morgan State 1-yard line, and four more inside the Bears' 20.

The Rattlers' offensive front blew Morgan State off the line so easily that it allowed a struggling running game to flourish. Antoine Flowers, who entered the game as FAMU's leading rusher with 393 yards and 8 touchdowns, gained 136 in the first half. He scored on highlight film runs of 42 and 43 yards.

Quarterback Oteman Sampson was 14-of-18 for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half. With the extra time, Sampson could find receivers other than main threat Robert Wilson.

Total first half yards: FAMU 425, Morgan State 15. The Bears didn't cross midfield until their second possession of the second half.

With quarterback Otis Covington hobbled by an ankle injury, the Bears had to throw rather than use the converted receiver's running ability. When Covington wasn't being sacked, his receivers dropped early passes. He was 24-of-52 for 224 yards with three interceptions, and was sacked seven times.

Morgan State 0 0 6 6 -- 12

Florida A&M 34 35 14 0 -- 83

Bear of a loss

Morgan State's 83-12 loss to Florida A&M by the numbers:

Florida A&M's 83 points were the most ever in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game. Earlier yesterday, North Carolina A&T walloped Bethune-Cookman, 73-7, but the Rattlers topped that 30 seconds into the third quarter.

Morgan State finished with minus 44 yards rushing.

The Bears have given up 60 or more points five times in MEAC play.

The Rattlers' 69 points set a school record for points in a half.

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Texas Southern

Site: Robertson Stadium, Houston

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Record: 5-4

Yesterday: Beat Grambling State, 20-7

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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