Morgan brings it home, 15-13 Bears edge Del. State at stadium for first win, end homecoming drought

October 25, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

For much of Morgan State's homecoming game with Delaware State yesterday before 25,180 at Ravens stadium -- the first college game at the facility -- Bears fans saw what they should have expected from a game featuring a pair of 0-6 teams: iffy football.

In the end, however, they got what they were hoping for -- the first homecoming win in 18 years. They also got something they had no reason to expect in a game against a team giving up 50 points per game: drama.

Two second-half touchdowns and a key stop at the end produced a 15-13 victory for the Bears (1-6 overall, 1-4 MEAC), who picked up their first win since ruining the Hornets ' homecoming on Oct. 25 of last year.

After Chris Mims caught a touchdown pass with five seconds left, Morgan's Melvin Coleman broke up Rashaan Matthews' pass to Darnerian McCants on a two-point conversion attempt that could have sent the game into overtime.

Afterward, Morgan coach Stump Mitchell understandably seemed more relaxed than he'd been after any other game this season, even chuckling occasionally.

But, Mitchell said, "As a team, we still haven't put it together. It's great for the guys that we're on the winning side, but it's still a struggle for me. I still need to get these guys to perform."

Indeed, the two central figures in the Bears' victory were players who could have easily been goats.

Quarterback Willie McGirt committed two early turnovers, but rebounded to complete 13 of 17 passes for 200 yards, including the 12-yard touchdown toss to Armand Walters that gave Morgan its first lead, 9-7, with 3: 09 left in the third quarter.

Bears running back Jay Hinton was bottled up for much of the game -- often failing to gain more than a yard -- before busting NTC loose for a 70-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 15-7 with 1: 40 left in the game.

Hinton's run was a major boost to the Bears, and his effort comprised most of the 127 yards that came on his 21 carries.

"When I got out after breaking that first tackle," Hinton said, "it was great just hearing that crowd; I turned around, saw a defender and just jumped into the end zone. It was the best feeling I've had in my life for a while."

Morgan offered previously inattentive fans a capsule look at its first six games during its first offensive drive, using a turnover to waste an opportunity.

Handed good field position at the Delaware State 39 after Teddy Johnson's errant onside kick, the Bears advanced to the 20-yard line before McGirt fumbled while attempting an option pitch. The ball was recovered by Delaware State's Lynelle Canty.

The Hornets (0-4, 0-4) capitalized, going on a 13-play, 76-yard drive that used up 8: 48 before Grayland King's three-yard run made the score 7-0 with 4: 01 left in the first quarter.

On Morgan's next possession, it drove 40 yards to the Delaware State 36. Then, McGirt committed his second miscue of the period, throwing a pass intended for Ralph Jones that was intercepted by DeShane Dennis.

Eventually, McGirt's performance tended toward the productive, especially after he found Marc Lester. The freshman receiver had four receptions in the first half and finished with six catches for 113 yards, bettering his previous season output of 107 yards in four appearances.

McGirt was looking for Lester on a third-and-5 play at the Delaware State 5 early in the third quarter, but threw incomplete. Instead, K.C. Vasquez's 22-yard field goal narrowed the Hornets' lead to 7-3 with 9: 52 left.

But McGirt connected with Lester on the next drive, a 42-yard play that set up the touchdown pass to Walters, setting off a celebration -- and a penalty for its excessiveness, which led to a missed extra-point by Vasquez.

This kept the game in doubt, as did a 50-yard Delaware State drive to the Morgan 17, which featured two fourth-down conversions.

A field goal by Aaron Quinn from 34 yards would have given the Hornets a lead with less than 2: 00 remaining, but holder Omar Jackson had trouble controlling a high snap and fumbled the ball; it was recovered by Morgan's David Lewis.

Hinton's dash down the left sideline followed, as well as another celebration penalty, another missed extra point and another valiant comeback by the Hornets that fell a bit short.

Next for Morgan

Opponent: Florida A&M

Site: Bragg Memorial Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Record: 6-1

Yesterday: Idle.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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